At a meeting last week, Space Florida’s Board of Directors agreed to allow staff to proceed with Project Sabel, an initiative to bring an unnamed company interested in establishing a “major aerospace presence” in the Sunshine State.
The project would involve an initial capital investment of $80 million, including a $36 million manufacturing facility, and generate approximately 250 high-paying jobs. Space Florida would finance, build and own the manufacturing facility and lease it to the company under a long-term agreement, according to board documents. The project would be eligible for $17.5 million in matching funds from the Florida Department of Transportation.
Meanwhile, a story in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday says that OneWeb is looking to set up assembling and testing facilities in Florida for its constellation of 640 satellites that will deliver high-speed Internet to any location on Earth.
Could it be….? Is OneWeb the mysterious Project Sabel?
Neither OneWeb nor Space Florida is saying. OneWeb CEO Matthew O’Connell did not reveal the location of the manufacturing facility in the story, nor did he mention any discussions with Space Florida.
That being said, a location along the state’s Space Coast would be an excellent fit. And it’s rare for a major aerospace space company to come into the state without reaching some type of deal with Space Florida.
So, if Project Sabel doesn’t involve OneWeb, there will be another project in the future that will involve it.
In other OneWeb related news, O’Connell says the timetable for launching commercial Internet service has slipped from 2019 to sometime in 2020.
UPDATE: FLorida Today has confirmed that OneWeb is the company involved in Project Sabel.