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Amazon Kuiper will build a satellite manufacturing facility in Florida

Artist’s rendering of the Kuiper Project satellite processing in Florida.

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Amazon is investing $120 million in a satellite processing facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the company prepares to launch the first satellites for its Project Kuiper Internet network, the tech giant announced Friday.

The facility will be built on a launch pad that was once the landing site for NASA’s space shuttles. LLF is now leased and operated by Space Florida, the state’s space economic development arm.

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“I am delighted that Amazon is the first major tenant to secure the location [at the LLF]” Frank DiBella, CEO of Space Florida, told CNBC. “However, it shows that we see the entire state as an ecosystem that supports space.”

Project Kuiper is Amazon’s plan to build a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide high-speed Internet access anywhere in the world. The 100,000-square-foot processing facility will serve as one of the final stages before the satellites are launched into orbit, preparing them for launch on United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin rockets, which are separately owned by Jeff Bezos.

“We are going to finish construction at the end of 2024. We will process our first production satellites at this facility in early 2025,” Steve Metayer, Amazon’s vice president of Kuiper manufacturing, told CNBC.

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Last year, Amazon announced the industry’s largest corporate rocket deal to launch its satellites. It ordered 77 launches — deals that included options if needed — from various companies to deploy the satellites fast enough to meet regulatory requirements.

An “ultra-compact” version of the Kuiper project

Amazon

Amazon hopes to launch its first two prototype Kuiper satellites “in the coming months,” the company said, but that depends on when the rocket that will carry the spacecraft is ready.

According to Metayer, Amazon still plans to fly the prototypes during the first launch of the ULA Vulcan rocket, which was recently delayed until the fourth quarter. ​​​​​​While Amazon “can work with” the new Vulcan schedule, Metayer said the company is “looking at all the options available to us in order to build prototypes in a timely manner.”

The Kuiper prototypes have already changed rides once, switching from the ABL RS1 rocket to the Vulcan.

The Kuiper project currently employs more than 1,400 people, according to Amazon. Kuiper’s main facilities are located near Seattle in the cities of Redmond and Kirkland. Amazon has other locations in San Diego, Austin, Texas, New York, and Washington, DC

“We go where the talent is,” Metayer said.

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