LONDON (UKSA PR) — Affordable worldwide internet coverage is one step closer today, after £18 million [$23.5 million] of UK Space Agency funding was awarded to OneWeb through the European Space Agency, to aid the development of its next generation satellite constellation.
A global communications network in space, the system will be comprised of approximately 650 satellites initially and scale to more than 900 satellites over time.
Science Minister Chris Skidmore is visiting the European Space Agency in the Netherlands today. He will say:
Fast internet access is something many people take for granted but in many areas of the world connectivity is still hit and miss.
This new £18m investment will go towards meeting the significant technical challenges of the project, putting the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge research and development.
The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it. It is made possible by our ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and our world-leading capabilities in space and telecommunications, which we are supporting through our modern Industrial Strategy.
UK business OneWeb, which is headquartered in London and will employ up to 200 staff at its’ White City offices, is poised to take advantage of cost effective spacecraft launch and manufacturing to deploy hundreds of satellites that could provide more affordable internet connectivity to people and businesses across the world.
The OneWeb Sunrise programme will initially focus on technologies for the next generation of satellite payloads, ground connections and space debris removal.
The UK Space Agency investment will also support novel automation techniques and artificial intelligence to manage the proposed constellation of spacecraft and its interaction with terrestrial networks to realise global 5G connectivity.