Starlink Challenger. Project Kuiper Internet satellites to be built at new factory in Seattle suburb of Kirkland
Amazon said it will expand its Project Kuiper manufacturing capacity, with the development of a dedicated 172,000-square-foot satellite production facility in Kirkland, Washington.
The announcement of the new satellite factory comes after it announced in 2020 its initial 219,000-square-foot research and development facility to develop Internet satellite prototypes.
Earlier this month, Amazon revealed that Project Kuiper will launch two prototype satellites in early 2023 aboard a new rocket.
Its first two satellites (known as Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2) will be completed by the end of the year, and it plans to deploy both satellites on the first flight of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) new Vulcan Centaur rocket in early 2023.
The new 172,000-square-foot facility in Kirkland will be dedicated to manufacturing satellites as Amazon plans to launch 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit to expand high-speed broadband Internet access speed worldwide.
To that end, Amazon in April signed a rocket deal with three companies to provide heavy-lift launch services for Project Kuiper.
Amazon secured up to 92 launches with ULA, Arianespace and Blue Origin to deploy its constellation, “marking the largest commercial purchase of launch vehicles in history.”
This will allow Amazon’s Project Kuiper to begin challenging SpaceX and its Starlink constellation, as well as OneWeb.
“These facilities have the capacity to support prototype development and begin commercial production of satellites, but to fulfill our vision for the project, we need to operate on a much larger scale,” Amazon said.
“This requires dedicated manufacturing space, and we are excited to announce plans to develop a dedicated 172,000 square foot satellite production facility in Kirkland, Washington,” he said. “The new facility will create more than 200 highly skilled manufacturing and aerospace jobs in the Puget Sound region and provide the scale needed to build up to four satellites a day.”
Amazon’s head of devices, Dave Limp, said in an interview with The Washington Post that to reach its goal of putting more than 3,000 satellites into orbit, Amazon will need to build one to three satellites. every day, maybe even a little more than that.” .”
“Getting the Kuiper Project satellites into space requires significant precision, expertise and a world-class team committed to our vision,” said Rajeev Badyal, Kuiper Project Vice President of Technology.
“This new satellite production facility will significantly expand our manufacturing capacity as we move closer to launch and deployment, and brings us another step closer to fulfilling our mission to connect underserved and underserved communities across the world,” Badyal said.
Amazon said Project Kuiper satellites have been designed and developed in-house to maximize performance while reducing costs, and its manufacturing facility will give Amazon additional control over the production and testing process .
He said that by centralizing operations here in the Puget Sound, he can also ensure close coordination between the design and development teams in Redmond and the manufacturing teams in Kirkland.
“We are excited about Amazon’s selection of Kirkland for the Project Kuiper satellite production facility,” said Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet. “Whether you’re looking to get your foot in the door or you’re pursuing an advanced, high-level career, this will provide even more economic opportunity for professionals who live here and for those who haven’t yet called Kirkland home.” .
Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos had announced Project Kuiper in 2019.
Bezos admitted at the time that Project Kuiper would cost billions of dollars to build.
“It’s also a very good business for Amazon because it’s very highly capitalized [capital expenditure] company,” Bezos said four years ago. “It’s several billion dollars of capex. … Amazon is a big enough company now that we have to do things that, if they work, can move the needle.”
Then, in July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave its official approval to Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellites: Amazon pledged to invest $10 billion in the project.
The Kuiper project aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to a wide range of customers, including individual households, schools, hospitals, businesses, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile operators and other organizations who work in places without reliable internet connectivity. .
Amazon said more than 1,000 people are currently working on Project Kuiper, and the team is making significant progress as it prepares to serve tens of millions of customers worldwide.
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