Amazon announced today that its Project Kuiper satellite operation has outgrown its current office space, and will move into 219,000 square feet of space that it’s leasing in Redmond, Wash. — the same city where one of its chief rivals, SpaceX, has its own satellite operation.
The new headquarters facility, spread across two buildings, will include offices and design space, research and development labs and prototype manufacturing facilities, Amazon said today in a news release.
“Renovations on the facility are already underway, and the Kuiper team will move into the new site in 2020,” Amazon said.
Kuiper HQ will be in the same locale as Microsoft’s world headquarters, and within about an hour’s drive (on a good day) from the growing HQ for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ other big space venture, Blue Origin, south of Seattle in Kent, Wash.
Redmond Commerce Center, which is about a half-mile from SpaceX’s original Redmond office building, seems the likeliest prospect for Project Kuiper’s headquarters. It has two buildings that were recently leased to new tenants, with a total of just over 219,000 square feet. Renovation work is underway, according to Redmond city records. The property’s parking lot has spaces for 300 vehicles.
One real estate source told GeekWire that the site was being cleaned up this afternoon inside and out, apparently for the new tenants. Amazon would not confirm the location of Kuiper’s Redmond digs, but we’ll update this story with anything further we find out. (And for what it’s worth, SpaceX has moved its Starlink satellite operation a few miles farther out, to Redmond Ridge Corporate Center.)
Project Kuiper aims to put 3,236 satellites into low Earth orbit to provide broadband data connectivity for millions of people in underserved markets around the world, as well as for Amazon Web Services and the Seattle-based retailing giant’s other data-dependent services.
Amazon hasn’t yet revealed a timetable for launching the satellites or providing service, but in today’s update, the company said it’s made “significant progress” toward its goal since announcing the project in April. Today’s statement noted that Amazon has built “a diverse, world-class team of experts who are passionate about bridging the digital divide.”
The Project Kuiper careers website currently lists 167 open jobs, with most of them based in Bellevue, Wash., the city next door to Redmond.
Project Kuiper’s team has submitted filings with the International Telecommunication Union and with the Federal Communications Commission, but it’s still far behind SpaceX’s Redmond-based Starlink project and OneWeb’s satellite broadband effort, which have already received approvals for launching thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit. The prospect of having so many spacecraft sailing across the night sky has sparked concern from astronomers and from experts on space traffic management.
Amazon hasn’t yet said which launch provider will put Project Kuiper’s satellites in orbit. Blue Origin would be an obvious candidate because of the Bezos connection. However, before going with Bezos’ privately held company, publicly traded Amazon would have to do due diligence and show that such a choice would provide the best value for the company’s shareholders.
This report was originally published at 1:19 p.m. PT Dec. 18, and was updated with details about Redmond Commerce Center.