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French satellite builder Airbus has won an order for 900 satellites from Jersey-based OneWeb. The deal was announced at the Paris Air Show.
The multi-billion dollar order will see 600-650 of the satellites launched, and the balance kept in reserve. Backers to the scheme include telecoms giant Qualcomm and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Branson’s plan is to play a part in launching batches of satellites from his space division.
The satellites themselves will be much smaller than the usual Geostationary satellites that deliver TV programming around the world. OneWeb’s intention is to link the planet with low-cost Internet and Broadband access using satellites that weigh around 150 kgs in size, and cost about $500,000 (€446k) each. A large broadcasting satellite costs around $300 million.
The original OneWeb concept, known as WorldVu, will use a batch of regulatory filings that are extremely time-sensitive. According to the ITU regulations the system must be ‘brought into use’ within the 2019-2020 timeframe.