Airbus delivers mass-produced satellites to OneWeb constellation

By Murielle Gonzalez | Published: 26-Jul-2019

The joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb has built the world’s first high-volume satellite production facility in Florida

OneWeb Satellites, the joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus, has opened the world’s first high-volume, high-speed advanced satellite production facility. The site, located in Florida, US, features manufacturing integration areas compliant to ISO Class 8 cleanroom requirements. The company is already working on delivering 900 satellites for the OneWeb constellation designed to bring transformative internet connectivity to everyone, everywhere.

Historically, satellites are custom-built, costing tens of millions of dollars to build. It takes more than a year to produce a single one. The OneWeb Satellites facility is the first to employ industrial-scale mass-production techniques for satellites, enabling dramatically reduced costs and production times that can deliver one satellite per production shift or two a day.

The Florida facility is the first to employ industrial-scale mass-production techniques for satellites, reducing significantly costs and production times

“OneWeb Satellites and its partners are transforming the satellite and space industry," said Tony Gingiss, CEO of OneWeb Satellites. "By producing high-quality satellites at a fraction of the cost and schedule of traditional manufacturers, we are not only enabling OneWeb to connect the planet, but we are also making space dramatically more accessible to everyone.”

The facility’s production capabilities will first support the rapid scaling of the OneWeb network, starting with a constellation of 650 satellites and scaling to 1,980 units delivering global connectivity.

Globally connected

With half the world’s population unconnected and inconsistent connectivity persisting as people travel more at sea and in the skies, the high-performance communication satellites built in this facility will enable high-speed internet access that can unlock healthcare, education, and economic advancements.

Packing of the first satellites of OneWeb Satellites network. Copyright-Airbus-OneWeb-Satellites

Packing of the first satellites of OneWeb Satellites network. Copyright-Airbus-OneWeb-Satellites

“This is a defining moment in the history of OneWeb, and the space industry," said Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. "With today’s opening, we are one step closer to connecting the unconnected for the benefit of societies all over the world,” he added.

Steckel revealed the company is gearing up for more satellite launches at the end of the year. "This facility will ensure we can begin delivering global connectivity in some areas as early as next year and globally in 2021," he said.

Production environment

The 105,500 sqft facility, which has two lines capable of producing two satellites a day, is helping to revitalise Florida’s Space Coast with 250 new high-tech jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs through the supply chain.

For Airbus, this new facility is the latest step in the company’s continued and long-standing growth in US manufacturing, job creation and investment. The company utilises 450 suppliers in the US in more than 40 states and has spent more than US$187 billion in the country since 1990.

“Airbus is manufacturing products in the US from all of our business divisions: commercial aircraft, helicopters and now satellites,” said C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas. “We take seriously our partnerships in the communities where we do business, and we’re proud to contribute our aerospace manufacturing expertise to the Space Coast with 250 new high-tech jobs in Florida," he explained.

Airbus said OneWeb Satellites’ game-changing manufacturing technology and facility also represent a tremendous opportunity for other commercial and government customers to gain "dramatic cost savings" while opening the door to missions that were previously unthinkable.

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