OneWeb Satellites LLC has broken ground to mark the beginning of construction on its estimated USD 85m high-volume satellite manufacturing factory in Exploration Park, Florida, the company said.
The factory near NASA´s Kennedy Space Center is set to begin its full series, autonomous assembly line production, integration and satellite testing later this year.
OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a satellite-based Internet provider, and Airbus, the world´s second largest space company, with its first order to include the production of 900 communications satellites for OneWeb´s low Earth orbit constellation.
The high-volume satellite factory is being built in partnership with the state of Florida and Space Florida. The initiative is anticipated to create nearly 250 direct, highly skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs, as well as thousands more throughout a broad supplier base across the nation that will support production. It will bring further growth and development to the world´s leading space industry in Florida and continue to draw suppliers and subcontractors to the area.
The first 900 production satellites will weigh only 150 kg, and will have better performance than much larger, more costly communications satellites today. The satellites will be used primarily by OneWeb for its global Internet services, but the new low-cost, ultra-high performance satellites will be available for other commercial satellite operators and government customers globally as early as 2018. The satellites are designed with modularity in mind and are well-suited for multiple mission configurations.
By using aircraft manufacturing technologies from Airbus, up to three satellites per day can be produced at the new factory on short schedules, at significant cost savings and without affecting the high levels of quality and technology.
The factory will include state-of-the-art automation, test equipment and data acquisition capabilities to shorten assembly times and provide a means to analyze factory performance and process improvements. Local contractors in Florida will support the project, and additional capability is expected to move into the region. This will be the first satellite manufacturing facility in Florida and the first in the US located in close proximity to a launch site.
OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture, equally owned by OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, to design and build the 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation, which will offer high-speed Internet with global coverage.
OneWeb´s mission is to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, connect every school on Earth, and bridge the digital divide by 2027. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide connectivity around the world. It will transparently extend the networks of mobile operators and ISP´s to serve new coverage areas, bringing voice and data access to consumers, businesses, schools, healthcare institutions and other end users.
Airbus Americas is the US-based operation of Airbus, a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. Airbus contributes USD 17bn to the US economy annually and supports more than 264,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers. In addition to corporate offices, engineering centers, training facilities, MROs and spare parts distribution centers, Airbus has manufacturing facilities producing commercial aircraft, helicopters and now satellites throughout the US www.airbus.com/company/americas
Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida´s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce.