US: The world's second largest space company, Airbus Defense and Space and OneWeb, are building a new global satellite communications system. The new company has been formed and named as OneWeb Satellites. Director of OneWeb’s Space Systems, Brian Holz will lead the company as its CEO. The joint venture will design and build 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation, which will offer high-speed internet with global coverage.
OneWeb Satellites will also be able to build satellites, platforms and equipment to be marketed by Airbus Defense and Space to other operators of future constellations. OneWeb Satellites will undertake design activities for the entire satellite fleet and the manufacture of the first ten flight models will take place in France, with the first ever mass production of the operational satellites planned for North America.
Each satellite will weigh less than 150 kilograms (330 pounds) and will operate in low-Earth orbit. They will be launched by Arianespace and Virgin Galactic starting from 2018 and reach their orbital positions using electrical propulsion. "On both sides of the Atlantic, our teams are now working under a common flag to meet the incredible challenge: to mass-produce 900 satellites for the OneWeb constellation," said Eric Béranger, Head of Programs Space Systems.
"For several months now, we have been working on the design of this unprecedented constellation and how we are going to manufacture them — both ground-breaking in their own way. The next step will be to set up a prototype line in Toulouse for the production