On the same day it announced a new merger with Intelsat, OneWeb said it will break ground Friday on its high-volume satellite manufacturing facility near Kennedy Space Center. (Update: OneWeb said on Thursday, March 1 that the groundbreaking is postponed due to scheduling conflicts, and did not name a new date.)
The company plans to show off a prototype of the satellites that will be built at the facility. The OneWeb plant will rise just across the road from Blue Origin’s rocket plant, in Space Florida’s Exploration Park development, marking a new chapter in space manufacturing for the region.
The facility, over 100,000 square feet, is expected to employ about 250 people. The company is pioneering faster, more efficient satellite construction, CEO Brian Holz said — adding that expertise and experienced engineers from the Space Coast are needed, but the company is not trying to duplicate anything that already exists.
VIPs expected at the groundbreaking including Gov. Rick Scott, OneWeb founder Greg Wyler and Airbus America Chairman Allan McArtor.
OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture with Airbus Defense and Space, plans to launch hundreds of telecommunications satellites, many of them from Florida’s Space Coast, during the next several years — with a goal to build 15 satellites a week here, Holz said in March 2016.
Wyler said the goal of his company has been to build and launch satellites that will spread interconnectivity across the globe. Each satellite is designed to provide up to 10 Gbps bandwidth. OneWeb will also use its factory to produce technology for other commercial and government customers.The first 900 production satellites will weigh only 150 kilograms, a little bigger than a large refrigerator.
The satellites will be used primarily by OneWeb for its global internet services; it intends to make new low-cost ultrahigh-performance satellites available for other commercial satellite operators and government customers.