Amazon is spending $120 million to build a new facility for its Project Kuiper satellites in Florida. On Thursday, the company announced it will use the 100,000-square-foot building to prepare its internet satellites for their launch into space.
The building will be located at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, where NASA once landed its Space Shuttle missions. In addition to its large square footage, the facility will also feature a 100-foot-tall bay, giving Amazon plenty of room to integrate its satellites with rockets from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and the United Launch Alliance (ULA).
Steve Metayer, Amazon’s vice president of Kuiper production operations, tells CNBC that he expects to finish construction on the building toward the end of next year, with satellite processing starting in early 2025.
Project Kuiper is part of Amazon’s plan to connect the globe to the internet with the launch of over 3,200 low-Earth orbit satellites. While Amazon showed off its customer terminals earlier this year, it’s still struggling to get its two prototype satellites into space. The prototypes were supposed to hitch a ride on the ULA’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket in May, but an explosion during a test and other technical difficulties have pushed the launch into late 2023.
Despite the delay, Amazon says it will start producing satellites at its facility in Kirkland, Washington, by the end of this year and that it expects to “production launches and early enterprise customer pilots” in 2024.
“We have an ambitious plan to begin Project Kuiper’s full-scale production launches and early customer pilots next year, and this new facility will play a critical role in helping us deliver on that timeline,” Metayer says.
Amazon has a lot of catching up to do with its biggest competitor: SpaceX’s Starlink. Starlink has already deployed a constellation of over 4,000 satellites and is providing service to more than 1.5 million people around the world. But Amazon may ultimately need SpaceX to succeed — SpaceX’s rockets have become the most popular mode of transport for satellite launch companies and government agencies.