Satellite based internet provider OneWeb has signed a joint venture deal with Airbus Defence and Space which plans to launch 900 satellites to provide global high speed web coverage.
OneWeb Satellites is equally owned by OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space. It will design and build the 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation.
OneWeb Satellites has started design activities for the entire OneWeb satellite fleet and the manufacture of the first 10 flight models will take place in France followed by the first ever mass production of the operational satellites planned for North America, the company said.
Each satellite will weigh less than 150 kg and will operate in low Earth orbit. They will be launched by Arianespace and Virgin Galactic starting from 2018 and reach their orbital positions using electrical propulsion.
The OneWeb board includes Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, Paul Jacobs, Executive Chairman of Qualcomm, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder of Bharti and Thomas Enders CEO Airbus Group.
"The next stage of the OneWeb adventure is here. On both sides of the Atlantic, our teams are now working under a common flag to meet the incredible challenge: to mass-produce 900 satellites for the OneWeb constellation," said Eric Béranger, head of programmes Space Systems. "For several months now, we have been working on the design of this unprecedented constellation and how we are going to manufacture them – both ground-breaking in their own way. The next step will be to set up a prototype line in Toulouse for production of the first 10 satellites. This will also be used to test the industrialisation method for the series production of the other satellites."
Matt O’Connell, CEO of OneWeb. "As we build out the constellation, besides its very reliable satellite performance heritage and technical support, Airbus brings design for manufacturing capability into this operation which is key to achieving both our short term and long term goals for providing cost effective solutions on time for our future customers."
OneWeb Satellites will also be able to build satellites, platforms and equipment to be marketed by Airbus Defence and Space to other operators of future constellations.