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Amazon Ramps Up Kuiper Production, Starts Workforce Training Program 

By Rachel Jewett | May 14, 2024

      Amazon partners with Lake Washington Institute of Technology to create a satellite technician certificate program. Photo: Amazon

      Amazon is ramping up production for its satellite broadband constellation Project Kuiper. Satellite manufacturing is now underway at a recently opened full-rate factory in Kirkland, Washington. Amazon is also opening a new logistics facility in Everett, Washington, and starting a new satellite technician certificate program with a local technical college. 

      Amazon announced the updates on its Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation on its website on Tuesday, but did not share a target date to start launching the 3,232-satellite constellation in full. The company previously said it plans to start full-scale deployment in the first half of 2024.

      The manufacturing facility in Kirkland was first announced in 2022 and is now online. Last year, Amazon began manufacturing production satellites at its primary R&D facility in Redmond and is now transitioning production to the Kirkland facility, which will allow Project Kuiper to build up to five satellites per day at peak capacity. Amazon will build satellites in the Kirkland facility, then ship them to its processing facility in Florida ahead of launch. 

      “With our manufacturing facility in Kirkland coming online, we’re able to ramp satellite production ahead of our first launch and move faster in our mission to connect the world,” Steve Metayer, Project Kuiper’s vice president of production operations, said in the announcement. “Just like our advanced satellite design, we conceived our production line and manufacturing processes fully in-house. We also have a top-tier team delivering consistent, high-quality work every step of the way.” 

      The new receiving and logistics facility in Everett announced Tuesday is focused on streamlining operations and managing inventory of third-party materials for production. It is expected to be fully online in June 2024 and to bring approximately 200 skilled technician jobs to the Everett area. 

      The workforce program is a partnership with Lake Washington Institute of Technology to offer a satellite technician certificate program. Brian Huseman, vice president of Public Policy and Community Engagement at Amazon, said the program will “create a pipeline of future satellite technicians” for the region.  

      The program includes two 16-credit certifications — Aerospace Assembly Specialist and Aerospace Manufacturing — that can be completed in two semesters total. Amazon worked with Lake Washington Institute of Technology to develop the coursework. It is also available to Amazon warehouse employees as part of a prepaid education and skills training program. 

      “Industry partnerships like this collaboration with Amazon’s Project Kuiper are what make our students so successful. Together, we are providing real-world training for satellite technicians to work in the rapidly growing space industry,” commented Dr. Amy Morrison, president of Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

      Project Kuiper is Amazon’s planned Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation to provide satellite broadband internet to unserved and underserved communities around the world — a future competitor with Starlink and OneWeb. 

      United Launch Alliance launched the first two prototype satellites launched in October 2023. Since then, Amazon has successfully demonstrated video calls and optical inter-satellite link connections

      Amazon faces an FCC deadline to have half of the 3,232-satellite constellation launched by July 2026.