OneWeb and Airbus break ground on new satellite manufacturing facility
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Ground was broken for a new high-volume satellite manufacturing facility where OneWeb plans to produce the spacecraft at Exploration Park, located near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. While the Cape is known for rockets, this new venture will underscore Canaveral’s connection to the spacecraft that fly on them.
On hand for today’s ceremony were Brian Holz CEO of OneWeb Satellites, Mike Cosentino (President of Airbus Defence and Space Inc.), and a number of officials involved in the project.
A prototype of the satellites that will be produced at the new facility was on hand, highlighting the partnership between Space Florida and OneWeb Satellites. It is hoped that this agreement will bring as many as 250 high-tech jobs to Florida’s Space Coast. The structure that has arisen to support this endeavor, measuring more than 100,000 square feet (9,290 square meters), is meant to mass-produce satellites using an automated assembly line and systems similar to those used to produce aircraft.
OneWeb has joined Airbus Defence and Space to create OneWeb Satellites. According to a statement issued by the company, this new firm is the world’s second largest space company.
The company has a goal of bringing “affordable broadband” services to some four billion people who do not currently have internet services. They hope to accomplish this by fielding a fleet of microsatellites which could be sent aloft as early as next year (2018).
These aren’t the satellites that the public has become accustomed to, however, with the first production run of 900 satellites weighing 331 pounds (150 kilograms). The facility is the first of its kind for Florida and is unique in terms of how close it is to the launch site – something that should reduce the cost of sending the payload to orbit.
Other customers could potentially use the satellites, but they are primarily intended for OneWeb’s global internet services.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.