Jersey, Channel Islands-based OneWeb, which is planning to girdle the Earth with a massive fleet of 648 satellites in order to supply broadband services, says it is considering adding another 1,972 satellites to its super-constellation.
Company founder Greg Wyler, speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London last week and according to trade mag Space News, said that OneWeb had already pre-sold much of the initial fleet’s capacity, and thus a quadrupling of plans in order to bridge the planet’s “digital divide” by 2027 was in order.
OneWeb already had operation rights to expand the fleet by 2000 satellites. The first preliminary batch of 10 satellites would launch later next year, but would then be rapidly followed by the rest of the 638 in the original scheme.
OneWeb’s existing plan is to operate the 648 satellites in Low Earth Orbit (about 1200 kms high). The company’s goal is to provide service – including video – to the hundreds of millions of potential users living where there is poor or non-existent broadband access.
Wyler and his team are building a factory in Florida to assemble most of the satellites. The company has, as investors, Japan’s SoftBank, Intelsat, Virgin Galactic and Airbus.