OneWeb Satellites inaugurates serial production line in Toulouse, France

Published: 3-Jul-2017

OneWeb Satellites assembly line in Toulouse will begin end-to-end validation, testing and integration of its first satellites set for launch in just over nine months

OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a global communications company whose mission is to provide affordable Internet access to everyone, and Airbus Defence and Space. Airbus will produce the 900 communications satellites for OneWeb’s low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite fleet.

The 4,600m2 Toulouse facility will house a huge production line that will serve to validate the production methods necessary to manufacture high-performance satellites at a scale never achieved before. One of the major differences in the production set up is the use of a trolley robot that moves the developing satellites between the various work stations.

The work will look to de-risk any potential issues, and lay the framework for OneWeb's larger, multi-line satellite factory near the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

The initial 10 pilot and Toulouse-built satellites, after having undergone a comprehensive set of tests, will become the first of OneWeb’s fleet.

This assembly line will include state-of-the-art automation, test equipment and data acquisition capabilities to shorten assembly times and provide means to analyse factory performance and process improvements.

“We have just about nine months until the first of our fleet launches into orbit,” said Greg Wyler, Founder and Chairman of OneWeb. “Then, if all goes well, we will begin the world’s largest launch campaign, sending new satellites up every 21 days, and building not just a fleet but a digital bridge to enable affordable broadband access for the billions of unconnected around the world.”

OneWeb Production infographic

OneWeb Production infographic

The mini-satellites, coming from the huge production line, will enable new cost and performance paradigms for those looking to benefit from the advantages satellites can bring to Earth observation, sensor and telecommunications markets. It is aiming to produce up to 15 satellites per week using pioneering large volume spacecraft production.

Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus said: “Never before have high quality satellites been produced at such little cost, at such a fast pace and in such high quantities. As such, OneWeb is truly a transformational project – not just for Airbus but for the space industry as a whole.”

The development of this facility has been supported by Bpifrance in the framework of the French PIA programme (Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir).


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