OneWeb Awards Airbus Defence & Space Order for 900 Satellites

OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)
OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

PARIS (Airbus PR) — Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, announced that it has been selected by OneWeb Ltd. as its industrial partner for the design and manufacturing of its fleet of microsatellites. This initial production of 900 satellites, each weighing less than 150 kilogrammes, is planned for launch into low Earth orbit beginning in 2018 to deliver affordable Internet access globally.

“This partnership is a fantastic new chapter in our space story. Teaming with OneWeb with a requirement to produce several small satellites each day has inspired us to develop innovative designs and processes that will dramatically lower the cost in large volumes for high performance space applications,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. “Without doubt, this programme is challenging but we’re ready for it because we have leveraged resources and expertise across the entire Airbus Group. The agility and flexibility of ‘Team Airbus’ enables us to continue to be a major player in the rapidly evolving global space market.”

OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)
OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

“Combining the innovation and large volume manufacturing techniques from its A350 aircraft production, with a rich history of building extremely reliable high performance space systems, Team Airbus will help us deliver the OneWeb system on time, providing reliable connectivity for our customers,” said Brian Holz, Head of Space Systems at OneWeb. “We look forward to working with Airbus Defence and Space in order to bring to bear the best resources around the globe for achieving affordable Internet access for everyone.”

Design and production of the first 10 satellites will be carried out at Airbus Defence and Space’s facilities in Toulouse (France). Full series production will take place at a dedicated plant located in the U.S.A.

  • windbourne

    Congrats Airbus.

    Boeing is trying to divest itself from Manufacturing, while Airbus is working hard to own it. Smart group.

    I suspect that within another decade, the old adage for boeing (“If it Boeing, I ain’t going”), will be applied to Airbus instead and be accurate.

    I have to wonder how soon before Airbus lands other sats based on these lines?
    I am guessing that the reason for the first 10 to be build in France is that they are keeping engineering there, and want to know how to have duplicate lines. IOW, future sats willl not be built in America, but France. Still …..

  • DavidR2015

    Do we know who will launch these satellites?

  • windbourne

    Not yet.

  • DavidR2015

    My hunch is that Oneweb will give the job to multiple launch providers. It would be interesting to see how the financial trade-off works between a single provider and multiple providers. ie. If a single provider is chosen, then it should be cheaper (?), but it will take longer to launch to the constellation, potentially constraining revenues. If Oneweb use multiple providers, they likely get their constellation launched more quickly, and full revenues flow sooner. However, this is likely a more expensive option.
    I have to suspect that if Spacex are going to be busy launching their own constellation, that they may not be available to launch all / any of Oneweb’s satellites, and so I guess it becomes a Proton / Angara / Antares / Atlas / Ariane competition. Antares may be well placed in such a competition, but its not clear to me that they have enough engines for a large number of commercial launches.

  • James

    Thats my bet. They will get the expertice and all the necessary know how and then instead of building them in the US building them in france. A friend of mine from Europe once told me that many nations there don’t trust the french because they make anyone but the chinese look take in comparison as far as industrial espionage.