OneWeb, which is building a mega-constellation of 900 satellites, and had planned to launch its first batch of craft later this year, has reportedly slipped dates.
OneWeb is working with satellite builder Airbus to build 10 debut satellites in Toulouse, but is also constructing – with OneWeb – a jointly-owned satellite factory in Florida to manufacture the vast bulk of the proposed mega-system starting in 2019.
Russian news agency Sputnik reports: “Issues in spacecraft production have put off the first OneWeb launch from Kourou until at least February 2019. The rest of the launches have also shifted. The first launch from Baikonur will take place in summer or early fall 2019 and in 2020 from [Russia’s new launch site] Vostochny.”
The OneWeb plan is to launch an initial 648 satellites (plus spares) to help provide a global service to hundreds of millions of potential broadband users who have little or no access to the Internet.
OneWeb is backed to the tune of $1.7 billion by a range of equity investors including Japanese media conglomerate SoftBank, Virgin, Qualcomm, Intelsat and others.
Virgin Galactic, backed by Sir Richard Branson, has contracts to launch about 39 satellites.