OneWeb confirms Florida satellite factory
April 20, 2016
By Chris Forrester
Jersey-based OneWeb has confirmed that it will build a satellite construction and assembly facility on Florida’s Space Coast.
The new project is part of a scheme to build and orbit 900 satellites (720 primary, and the rest as backup) dedicated to bringing Internet and broadband-by-satellite to the world’s under-served consumers.
OneWeb’s founder, Greg Wyler, said the facility will create an immediate 250 jobs in a 100,000 sq ft facility near Kennedy Space Center. Wyler says the factory will produce some 15 satellites a week at its peak production rate, and using robotics.
“This new facility is another step in the dream of enabling affordable internet access for the entire globe,” Wyler. “These satellites are truly state of the art as we have really pushed, but not exceeded, the limits of technology. With this new facility we will be able to iterate, update and continuously improve the satellite’s design and performance, and being right at the Space Center using Virgin Galactic we will be able to launch new satellites within hours of completion.”
OneWeb is linking with a number of high-profile partners and suppliers to achieve their vision for connectivity. Airbus Defence and Space will begin by building test satellites at its facility in Toulouse, France; Arianespace and Virgin Galactic will provide launch services support; Hughes Network Systems will build ground monitoring and management hardware; and Intelsat will manage the satellite fleet for the company.
Interestingly, Wyler’s team are already looking beyond their own output of better than one satellite a day, and see the facility provide a centre of excellence of the building of small satellites for other customers, not least the USA’s NASA space agency.