Amazon is ramping operations for its Kuiper project, its forthcoming high-speed satellite internet product, with a new HQ and R&D facility. From a small satellite constellation operating in low Earth orbit, Kuiper will provide internet connectivity to underserved communities — and in some cases, to people without any access at all.
If that tune sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a common enough goal these days — SpaceX is already launching satellites that will make up its Starlink constellation to provide similar service, first in North America and then eventually globally. OneWeb is launching satellites to provide global coverage, and is hoping to get started deploying its constellation in January. Google (or rather Alphabet, but they’re looking more like the same company than ever before these days) is looking to provide similar connectivity services in hard to reach areas through its Loon high-atmosphere balloon project, too.
Amazon’s approach involves launching thousands of satellites to low Earth orbit, over the course of multiple launches spanning multiple years. Using multiple, smaller satellites instead of large, single or small volume geostationary satellites (as has been the primary approach for satellite internet in the past) means you can potentially offer better service, with wider reach, and at a lower ultimate cost.
Kuiper doesn’t yet have a timeline around deployment or availability for customers, but Amazon is clearly investing in the project with this new dedicated facility, which will be located in Redmond, Wash., near Amazon’s overall home base in Seattle. All told, the new facility will cover 219,000 square feet across two separate buildings, and it’ll house R&D labs, office space and even prototype manufacturing for onsite satellite hardware production. Amazon anticipates Kuiper team members will start moving into the new site sometime next year.