OneWeb Satellites, a joint initiative between Airbus and One Web, has officially opened the very first mass production satellite factory in the world. Situated at Exploration Park in Florida, the new facility promises to build satellites faster, cheaper and better than ever before.
Traditional satellite manufacture involves custom produced models for the customer, taking a year or more to build just one. Production often costs tens of millions of dollars, making satellite deployment time consuming and expensive. One Web Satellites are set to change all that, employing mass, industrial-scale production techniques to drive down costs and speed up production.
CEO of OneWeb Satellites, Tony Gingiss, said in a press release,
“OneWeb Satellites and its partners are transforming the satellite and space industry. 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, we are making space dramatically more accessible to everyone,”
The Florida facility
The OneWeb Satellites facility in Florida is a big beast. At 105,500 square feet, it is large enough to support two production lines, capable of turning out two completed satellites per day. OneWeb say that their new factory will provide employment for 250 people directly, as well as supporting as many as 3,000 indirect jobs in the supply chain.
You can watch a tour of the new facility in the video below.
— OneWeb (@OneWeb) July 23, 2019
According to OneWeb data, the facility is capable of producing a satellite for approximately a 50th of the cost applied by traditional manufacturers. Satellites produced here will have a lifespan of seven years or more in a 500km orbit, or five years plus at 1,200km.
The partnership with Airbus has served to cement the European aerospace giant’s position in the US. Right now, Airbus already uses 450 suppliers across more than 40 US states, supporting more than 275,000 American jobs. C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas, commented in the press release,
“….we’re proud to contribute our aerospace manufacturing expertise to the Space Coast with 250 new high-tech jobs in Florida. We are equally excited to welcome these new employees to the Airbus OneWeb Satellites team in the U.S.”
#OneWeb is a revolution in the satellite industry producing 2-3 small sats/day. It’s a new business model with the 1st ever series production of satellites. Never before have high quality🛰️been produced at such low cost, such fast pace and in such large numbers. #NewSpaceRace pic.twitter.com/fbLembXlV7
— Airbus Space (@AirbusSpace) July 22, 2019
The new space race
This latest news comes on the back of OneWeb’s recent successful testing of HD satellite streaming services. Their tests delivered more than 400Mpbs using their LEO satellite array, which currently only numbers a fleet of six.
The company is planning a massive campaign to grow the fleet to 650 by 2020. Considered to be the largest satellite launch in history, satellites are planned to be sent into orbit 30 at a time. The new Florida facility will clearly be put to good use ramping up capacity to achieve this goal.