OneWeb Moves Forward With Broadband Satellite Constellation

OneWeb says it is on track with its broadband satellite constellation.

OneWeb told the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that its 800-plus-satellite constellation is on schedule and ready to fulfill the FCC’s goal of broadband coverage of all U.S. territory to reduce the digital divide.

For satellite broadband providers, Alaska appears to be the flavor of the month. In view to a competition for in-flight broadband service provision, in-flight-connectivity provider Gogo Inc. recently leased an aging SES-owned satellite and had it moved into a position for Alaskan and Hawaii coverage….

OneWeb, which for regulatory purposes is also known as WorldVu Satellites, said its final assembly line for the first 10 of its 880 satellites would be in operation at the Airbus Defence and Space plant in Toulouse, France, in June.

Airbus is a 50% shareholder of OneWeb Satellites, whose principal operations will be conducted in Exploration Park, Florida, where two production lines are being built.

The first 10 satellites will be used to validate OneWeb system performance. Full production-rate launches, aboard Europeanized Russian Soyuz rockets, is expected to start by the end of 2018, with each Soyuz carrying up to 36 OneWeb satellites, each expected to weigh about 150 kilograms.

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Russia Continues Slow Shift of Launches to Vostochny

Soyuz launch complex at Vostochny. (Credit: Roscosmos)

Tass reports that Roscosmos plans to conduct two satellite launches in December from Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome as the space agency continues a slow shift away from dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan.

The two Soyuz-2 launches will come about 20 months after the inaugural launch from the new spaceport in April 2016.

Roscomos head Igor Komarov outlined plans to gradually ramp up the number of launches from the facility, which has only one launch pad.

The state corporation expects that up to ten launches, including commercial ones, will be held annually at Vostochny, which is still under construction.

First commercial launches from Russia’s new Vostochny space center in the Far Eastern Amur Region are to begin in 2018, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation said. The space center’s commercial launch plan includes those for the OneWeb project aimed at creating a constellation of microsatellites to blanket the entire earth surface for broadband internet access all over the world.

“Two or three commercial launches are scheduled for 2018, six or seven – for 2019,” the Roscosmos chief said….

Vostochny’s construction began in 2012. The infrastructure for the first unmanned Angara carrier rocket launch is due to be ready by 2021, and for the first manned Angara mission by 2023.
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OneWeb Breaks Ground on Satellite Factory at Kennedy

One Web Satellites Ground Breaking ceremony at Exploration Park. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The portfolio of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will soon include large-scale satellite manufacturing following Thursday’s groundbreaking for a 150,000-square foot spacecraft factory in the center’s Exploration Park.

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Satellite Professions Name “Rising Five” New Space Companies

NEW YORK (SSPI PR) — The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) named today the first annual Rising Five, the five New Space Companies in the satellite industry that have made the most substantial progress over the past year. Decided by an international editorial advisory board, the 2017 Rising Five are the Kymeta Corporation, OneWeb, Planet, Spire Global and Virgin Galactic.

“The Rising Five represent the Society’s assessment of the progress made by innovative companies that are raising money, creating new technologies and pioneering new business models in this 60-year-old industry,” said SSPI Chairman Bryan McGuirk, chief commercial officer of Globecomm. “With so many new entrants in the market, the question is always who has the right idea, the right financing and the staying power to overcome the hurdles facing any new business and to find sustainable success. Our membership represents companies that know what it takes to succeed in one of the world’s most challenging technologies.”

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SpaceX Wants to Launch 12,000 Satellites

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has filed a new application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for approval to launch a constellation of 7,518 satellites to provide communications in the little used V band.

The system is in addition to  another constellations of 4,425 satellites (plus orbital spares) SpaceX proposed in November that would operate in the Ku and Ka bands. In total, the two constellations would have 11,943 spacecraft plus spares.

“When combined into a single, coordinated system, these ‘LEO’ and ‘VLEO’ constellations will enable SpaceX to provide robust broadband services on a full and continuous global basis,” SpaceX said in its application.

Competitor OneWeb has submitted a new application that would add an additional 2,000 satellites capable of operating in the V-band to its planned constellation of 720 satellites.

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Intelsat, OneWeb Announce Conditional Combination Agreement

Luxembourg, Jersey, and Tokyo, Japan, February 28, 2017 (Intelsat PR) — Intelsat (NYSE: I) and OneWeb today announced that they have entered into a definitive combination agreement pursuant to which Intelsat and OneWeb will merge in a share-for-share transaction. Intelsat and SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) also entered into a definitive share purchase agreement pursuant to which SoftBank will invest $1.7 billion in newly issued common and preferred shares of the combined company. Both the merger and the SoftBank investment are subject to, among other conditions, successful completion of debt exchange offers to certain existing Intelsat bondholders as well as receipt of certain regulatory approvals.

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Report: OneWeb, Intelsat Merger in the Works

An interesting story from Sky News:

The Japanese technology investor SoftBank is hatching plans for a multi-billion dollar merger of two major satellite companies – OneWeb and Intelsat – in a deal that would create a global powerhouse in the fast-changing arena of space technology.

Sky News has learnt that discussions involving a combination of OneWeb – shareholders in which include Airbus, The Coca-Cola Company and Virgin Group – and Intelsat are at an advanced stage.

Intelsat is also a small shareholder in OneWeb.

One source indicated that a deal could be outlined when Intelsat, which is listed in New York, reports financial results on Tuesday.

If the talks are successfully concluded, an announcement would come just two months after SoftBank invested $1bn in OneWeb, a move designed to help it build the world’s first high-volume satellite production facility in Florida.

SolAero’s $10 Million Expansion Keyed to OneWeb Contract

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (SolAero PR) –- SolAero Technologies Corp (SolAero), a leading provider of high efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and composite structural products, announced a $10 million program investment to augment its existing solar panel production capabilities in support of the growing market for commercial satellite constellations. This significant commitment includes the construction of a new 40,000 square foot facility at its headquarters in Albuquerque, NM. Once complete, this facility will contain the world’s only vertically-integrated, end-to-end satellite solar panel production capability. The project will create more than 100 new jobs at SolAero and its partners and will represent the leading industry benchmark for space solar power technology.

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The Year Ahead in Space

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.

A New Direction for NASA?

NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.

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OneWeb Raises $1.2 Billion for Global Satellite Internet

OneWeb satellite factory in Florida (Credit: OneWeb)
OneWeb satellite factory in Florida (Credit: OneWeb)
  • SoftBank Group Leads Fundraising Round with $1 Billion Investment
  • Investment Supports Engineering and High-Volume Manufacturing of Next Generation Satellites at a New Facility in Exploration Park, Florida
  • Expected to Create Nearly 3,000 New Engineering, Manufacturing and Supporting Jobs in the United States Over the Next Four Years
  • Designed to Accelerate Delivery of Affordable, High-Speed Internet to Rural Areas Across the United States and Emerging Markets
  • Reflects Companies’ Shared Commitment to Building the Infrastructure Driving Tomorrow’s Technology Applications and Economic Growth

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (OneWeb PR)–OneWeb Ltd. (“OneWeb”), which is building a constellation of satellites to enable global broadband access, and SoftBank Group Corp. (“SoftBank”) announced today that OneWeb has secured $1.2 billion in funded capital from SoftBank and existing investors, of which $1 billion will come from SoftBank.

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RUAG Space to Build Spacecraft Structures for OneWeb

ruag_logoBERN, Switzerland (RUAG Space PR) — RUAG Space will supply the structures for the OneWeb satellite constellation. A contract between OneWeb Satellites, the company responsible for constructing the OneWeb satellites, and RUAG Space has been signed that anticipates delivery of structures for 900 satellites by the end of 2020.

OneWeb is revolutionizing global connectivity and by far the largest satellite constellation ever. In just a few years’ time, about 900 satellites will be manufactured to be launched into low Earth orbit at an altitude of around 1,200 kilometres. These will offer broadband internet with up to 50 Mbps around the globe.

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Companies Propose Launching 8,700 Satellites into Non-Geosynchronous Orbit

OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)
OneWeb satellite. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

While SpaceX has received most of the attention for its plan to launch more than 4,000 broadband satellite network, the constellation makes up just over half the number of spacecraft that companies have proposed placing in non-geosynchronous satellite orbit (NGSO).

Companies have filed applications with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 8,731 NGSO communications satellites. While most of the constellations would provide broadband and communications services, others would collect Earth observation data.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, NGSO spacecraft “occupy a range of orbital positions (LEO satellites are located between 700km-1,500km from the Earth, MEO satellites are located at 10,000km from the Earth), and do not maintain a stationary position, but instead move in relation to the Earth’s surface.”

SpaceX leads the pack with 4,425 spacecraft, followed by Boeing with 2,956 and WorldVu (aka, OneWeb) with 720. Boeing has a second application before the FCC for a constellation with 60 satellites.

The table below provides a summary of the applications filed with the FCC.

 NGSO APPLICATIONS BEFORE FCC
COMPANYLOCATION
NO. OF SATELLITES
BANDSSERVICES
SpaceXHawthorne, CA4,425Ka, KuGlobal broadband
BoeingSeattle, WA2,956VAdvanced communications, Internet-based services
WorldVu (OneWeb)Arlington, VA720KuGlobal broadband
Kepler CommunicationsToronto, ONT140KuMachine-to-machine communications (Internet of Things)
 Telesat CanadaOttawa, ONT117Ka Wide band and narrow band communications services
 Theia Holdings A, Inc.Philadelphia, PA112KaIntegrated Earth observation and communications network
Spire GlobalSan Francisco, CA100KaMaritime monitoring, meteorological monitoring, and earth imaging services
 LeoSat MAPompano Beach, FL80KaBroadband services
BoeingSeattle, WA60KaVery high speed connectivity for end-user earth stations
 O3bWashington, DC60KaBroadband services
ViaSat  Carlsbad, CA24Ka, VBroadband services
 Karousel LLCAlexandria, VA12KaCommunications
Audacy CommunicationsWalnut, CA3K, VData relay constellation providing satellite operators with seamless access to NGSO satellites
Space Norway ASOslo, Norway2Ka, KuArctic broadband

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OneWeb Hires Airbus Veteran as CEO

OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)
OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

LONDON, 26 July 2016 (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb which is building a new global communications system to create affordable broadband services for all, announces the appointment of Eric Beranger as Chief Executive Officer.

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Space Florida Approves Financial Measures for Blue Origin, OneWeb

space_florida_logoThe Space Florida Board of Directors approved funding measures last week to support project by Blue Origin and OneWeb. The spending includes:

  • $2.7 million for transportation improvements between Blue Origin’s launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the rocket production facility it is building at Exploration Park; and,
  • $3 million for a short-term bridge loan to OneWeb in support of a planned satellite manufacturing facility at Exploration Park.

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