Amazon said on Thursday that a new facility will be built in a Seattle neighbourhood to produce satellites for Project Kuiper.
Project Kuiper, which Amazon unveiled in 2019, aims to create a network of 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit to deliver high-speed broadband internet. When the Federal Communications Commission approved the satellite internet system in 2020, Amazon achieved a significant victory.
According to Amazon devices CEO Dave Limp, the company will need to construct one to three satellites “every single day, maybe even a little more than that” in order to reach its goal of launching more than 3,000 satellites into orbit.
“We have to build the manufacturing capabilities that looks more like consumer electronics or automobiles and less like the traditional space industry,” Limp said.
Although Amazon has not specified a start date for the Kuiper launch campaign, FCC regulations mandate that the company place half of its planned satellites into orbit within six years, or 1,600 by July 2026.
Project Kuiper will reportedly get more than $10 billion in investments from Amazon, which already operates a 219,000-square-foot research and development centre in Redmond, Washington. The Redmond location has created prototypes and helped with the building of commercial satellites, but according to Amazon, “but to deliver on our vision for the project, we need to operate on a much larger scale.”
The new 172,000 square foot facility will be located in Kirkland, Washington, a nearby city. According to the company, more than 200 new employment should be generated in the Puget Sound area.
Amazon will be able to move on to the second stage of its production process because to the increased facility capacity, according to Limp.
Amazon has accelerated construction on its first two prototype satellites, known as KuiperSat-1 and KuiperSat-2, since getting FCC approval.
In November 2021, Amazon stated that it aimed to launch those prototypes aboard ABL Space’s RS1 rocket in the latter half of 2022. However, Amazon said earlier this month that United Launch Alliance would carry the satellites on their inaugural voyage, pushing back the launch to the beginning of next year.
Amazon’s first two prototype satellites have begun integration and final assembly, according to Limp, who added that they “should be done by the end of Q4.”
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