On Thursday OneWeb broke ground on a $85 million low Earth orbit satellite creation facility next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
(VERO BEACH, FLA) At the March 16th ceremony OneWeb Satellites CEO Brian Holz and Airbus Defense and Space Inc. President Mike Cosentino were joined by Florida Governor Rick Scott.
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 (LEO) constellation.
“We’ll produce over 2,000 satellites largely to be flown in LEO, low-Earth orbit, to be a key kingpin in that architecture,” Holz said during the ceremony. “That’s going to allow us the foundation, with new automation techniques, to lower the cost of satellite delivery, and also shorten the schedules for our customer and create value that is not in the industry today.”
OneWeb Satellites claims the Exploration Park facility will be able to produce up to three satellites per day.
This claim was echoed by Airbus Defense and Space Inc. President Mike Cosentino during an interview with SpaceNews on March 16th, 2017.
“Reaching the three-a-day production rate is just as much about the design of the satellites as it is the factory,” Cosentino told SpaceNews.
“Once we have the manufacturing processes down, once we have the suppliers lined up and the schedule validated, then we will operate in the same fashion as any high-assembly product does,” Cosentino said. “It hasn’t happened with a satellite, but there is no reason we can’t do it with a satellite if you do it with airplanes and automobiles.”
According to Cosentino, the first 10 satellites for the LEO network are planned for construction at an Airbus facility in Toulouse, France, and once the production methods have been validated the processes will be replicated at the Florida factory.
“Each spacecraft will be about the size of a washing machine,” Cosentino said.
In February, OneWeb Founder Greg Wyler told an audience in London that they were “actively weighing” the creation and deployment of about 2,000 LEO satellites on top of the 648 initially announced.
In a press release OneWeb described its initial “gen-1” constellation as 882 satellites, and filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to serve the U.S. market with 2,000 more satellites split between LEO and medium-Earth orbit.
These LEO satellites were described at the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) as instrumental in the creation and operation of an artificially intelligent Global Brain, and the satellites themselves are the infrastructure behind the emerging 5G network which boasts to provide ubiquitous connectivity and wifi internet access throughout the world.
At the 2017 MWC in Barcelona, Spain, TRUNEWS host Rick Wiles was told by keynote speakers that the establishment of a global network of LEO satellites would be used to leverage smart devices, referred to as the “Internet-of-Things”, to form the nervous system of an autonomous Global Brain.