OneWeb Satellites has announced the construction of an $85 million high-volume satellite manufacturing factory in Exploration Park, Florida. During a ceremony with Florida Governor Rick Scott, OneWeb Satellites CEO Brian Holz and Airbus Defense and Space Inc., President Mike Cosentino, announced that the factory is set to begin its full series, autonomous assembly line production, integration and satellite testing later this year. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a satellite-based internet provider, and Airbus, the world’s second largest space company, with its first order to include the production of 900 communications satellites for OneWeb’s low Earth orbit constellation.
The factory will include state-of-the-art automation, test equipment and data acquisition capabilities to shorten assembly times and provide a means to analyze factory performance and process improvements. Local contractors in Florida will support the project, and additional capability is expected to move into the region. This will be the first satellite manufacturing facility in Florida and the first in the U.S. located in close proximity to a launch site.
The facility is being built in partnership with the state of Florida and Space Florida. The initiative is anticipated to create nearly 250 direct, highly skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs, as well as thousands more throughout a broad supplier base across the nation that will support production. It will bring further growth and development to the world’s leading space industry in Florida and continue to draw suppliers and subcontractors to the area.
The first 900 production satellites will weigh only 150 kg, and will have better performance than much larger, more costly communications satellites today. The satellites will be used primarily by OneWeb for its global internet services, but the new low-cost, ultra-high performance satellites will be available for other commercial satellite operators and government customers globally as early as 2018. The satellites are being designed with modularity in mind and are well-suited for multiple mission configurations. By using aircraft manufacturing technologies from Airbus, up to three satellites per day can be produced at the new factory on short schedules, at significant cost savings and without affecting the high levels of quality and technology.