Amazon’s Starlink rival, Project Kuiper, is moving closer to liftoff. The company announced today that a new $120 million satellite-processing facility for the initiative is under construction at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Amazon plans to launch its first satellites “in the coming months,” followed by the first customer pilots next year.
Like Elon Musk’s Starlink, Project Kuiper aims to provide fast and affordable satellite broadband to areas “unserved or underserved by traditional internet and communications options.” (It’s an Amazon initiative but should enjoy a cozy relationship with Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.) Project Kuiper kickstarted in 2018, receiving FCC satellite licensing two years later. The company plans to create a constellation of 3,236 satellites to provide seamless broadband coverage for rural users. Amazon hasn’t yet announced consumer pricing, but it hints at budget-friendly plans, saying, “affordability is a key principle of Project Kuiper.” The company also intends to offer multiple speed / pricing tiers.
Kuiper’s satellites will be assembled at a new “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility” in Kirkland, Washington, by the end of 2023. The new Florida installation will receive the satellite shipments, perform final preparations ahead of their commercial deployment. Amazon says it’s secured launches from Blue Origin, Arianespace and United Launch Alliance (ULA). Most units will deploy from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, near the new processing facility.
Amazon touted Project Kuiper’s anticipated job creation. It says over 1,400 people are already working on it, and the company expects the initiative to eventually support thousands of suppliers and highly skilled jobs — especially in Alabama, Florida and Colorado.