OneWeb Ltd. is forming a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space as the design and manufacturing partner for its fleet of telecom class microsatellites. Airbus has put together ‘Team Airbus’ from its operations in Airbus Group, including manufacturing engineers from the Airbus A350 production facilities and teams from Airbus Defence and Space to design the satellites’ production plans and to help accelerate the development of OneWeb.
OneWeb’s mission is to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, and it is on track to deliver by 2019. The OneWeb system incorporates many technologies from partners, many of which are embedded in its User Terminals, to build this global communications system. This system, for the first time, will enable satellites to play a major role in mobile network expansion and small cell deployment.
OneWeb satellites will be produced in volume and have a mass less than 150 kg each. With 900 satellites including spares prepared for its initial constellation, the system will bring more than 10 Terabits per second of new capacity to rural areas around the globe.
“Airbus Defence and Space, with more than 80 satellites in flight today, has one of the strongest technology teams in the industry for satellite development. We have been working side-by-side with OneWeb analyzing and supporting its system, components and manufacturability and are excited to be a partner in such an important mission. This presents a unique opportunity to redefine satellite production,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems at Airbus Defence and Space.
He added, “Utilizing OneWeb’s priority access in the Ku-band for exactly the purpose intended, Airbus and all of OneWeb’s partners have an opportunity to make a long-term impact on access to communications for those on the other side of the digital divide.”
The first 10 microsatellites will be designed and produced in facilities located in Toulouse, France, after which a dedicated plant in the United States will handle full series production.
“We have worked with Airbus Space and Defence, to streamline the manufacturing process to the point that several satellites can be produced each day. This will redefine the cost structure for satellites, enabling rapid iteration and development of space related technologies,” said Brian Holz, Head of Space Systems at OneWeb. “Our mission keeps us, Airbus, and all of our other stakeholders and excited supply chain partners focused to drive real progress.”