Airbus unveiled its plans to produce 900 aircrafts for OneWeb, an internet service provider registered in British Channel Islands. Initially the company plans to unveil 600 satellites while others will only be spares, when required. The new constellation to be launched by OneWeb is ten times larger than any other number of satellites ever launched by a company.
Airbus has partnered for this project to take on a great challenge while meeting some of the world’s most stringent specification requirements and building expensive telecommunication platforms. The increased volume will help the company materialize economies of scale, significantly lowering the cost of production.
Every satellite launched in the space is expected to weigh around 150 kg. OneWeb is aiming to have each one built under half a million dollars. The first ten spacecrafts will be built in Toulouse facility and for the remaining; it will shifted to a plant dedicated for this purpose in the US.
Many space experts are speculating that in order for rockets to launch into space, help will be required from Virgin Group. And Richard Branson’s company is expected to develop a satellite launch system using its already developed tourist space concept.
A recent statement by Airbus reflects the importance of this partnership for Airbus:
“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. Without doubt, this program is challenging but we’re ready for it because we have leveraged resources and expertise across the entire Airbus Group.”
Greg Wyler, heading the OneWeb plans to have 20 planes of low-orbiting satellites that connect to small user terminals which would act as hubs for phones and computers. Many satellite companies have not been successful owing to lack of customer demand. In order for the venture to succeed, they will have to make sure that it takes off in time and delivers value for money internet services to customers. Elon Musk of SpaceX is already planning for the same kind of satellite internet service. It is only matter of time before all the companies looking to tap satellite internet potential will make this service widely available, eventually bringing down costs.