Amazon to take on SpaceX's Starlink with new factory at NASA's Kennedy Space Center

The delivery giant picked Kennedy Space Center for its Project Kuiper internet satellite processing facility.
Chris Young
An artist's impression of the Amazon facility.
An artist's impression of the Amazon facility.


Amazon announced on July 21 it will build a satellite processing facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

Last year, the delivery giant announced the "largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history" for the launch of its 3,200 Project Kuiper broadband internet satellites.

Amazon secured 77 heavy-lift rocket missions to deploy its satellite constellation, designed to rival SpaceX's Starlink.

The new facility at Kennedy Space Center will perform final preparations for Kuiper satellites that will be shipped from out of state, according to a press statement.

New Project Kuiper facility at Kennedy Space Center

The Amazon facility will be a 31,000-square-meter factory the company aims to complete in 2024 at Kennedy Space Center's Launch and Landing Facility.

"Amazon is investing $120 million in new construction and high-value equipment for the facility, and creating up to 50 new jobs on the Space Coast," Amazon's statement explained.

Amazon has contracted rocket companies United Launch Alliance (ULA), Arianespace, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin to perform up to 92 Project Kuiper launches.

Amazon also announced its production facilities in Kirkland, Washington will start producing satellites by the end of the year. The company aims to start providing its services to undisclosed enterprise customers next year. The Kennedy Space Center facility, however, will likely not be operational before early 2025.

Under its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, Amazon has to deploy 1,618 satellites (half its total constellation) by July 2026, and the rest by July 2029.

Amazon's Project Kuiper rockets

Amazon is massively relying on rockets that have yet to fly to orbit for its Project Kuiper launches. The company has contracted ULA's Vulcan Centaur, Arianespace's Ariane 6, and Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket, all of which have faced delays and none of which are guaranteed to fly to orbit for the first time this year.

Amazon initially announced plans to launch its first two prototype Kuiper satellites by the fourth quarter of 2022, but it then switched to a Vulcan Centaur mission slated for the fourth quarter of this year. That mission will be Vulcan Centaur's debut flight, which has been delayed on numerous occasions.

Overall, Amazon has committed $10 billion to Project Kuiper. The company's 3,200-internet-satellite constellation will actually be relatively small compared to SpaceX's Starlink network. SpaceX currently has more than 4,000 operational Starlink satellites. Elon Musk's space company has permission to launch an additional 12,000 satellites, and it is also seeking FCC approval to launch approximately 30,000 more.

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