EXPLORATION PARK, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--OneWeb Satellites LLC is breaking ground at 2 p.m. ET today to mark the beginning of construction on its estimated $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, it will be announced that the factory near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center 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.
“This facility is a pivotal step toward our mission to build a new global knowledge infrastructure, accessible to everyone,” said OneWeb founder and Executive Chairman Greg Wyler. “Over the past year, and thanks to the energizing support of our partners, we’ve greatly accelerated our technical progress. With this facility, we will be able to continuously iterate on the design of our satellites, launch new satellites within hours of completion and create significant opportunity in the U.S.”
The high-volume satellite factory 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.
“This new American-built manufacturing facility is the latest example of Airbus’ commitment to expanding our manufacturing footprint in the U.S.,” said Allan McArtor, Chairman of Airbus Americas. “We already build civil and military helicopters in Texas and Mississippi, as well as commercial aircraft in Alabama. So, building satellites in Florida with our partner OneWeb continues the Airbus trend of growing U.S.-based manufacturing and jobs and staying close to our American supply chain, within which we invest $17 billion annually.”
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 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.
“This factory will usher in a new era of innovation for satellite design and manufacturing that will enable us to lower overall program costs and shorten acquisition timelines for our customers to less than a year,” said Holz. “These advancements will allow our customers to get to market and create value much faster than today.”
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.
“Today’s groundbreaking for OneWeb Satellites’ new manufacturing facility here at Exploration Park is yet another milestone in the not-so-distant future of the commercial space industry at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport,” said Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida. “It is remarkable that the state of Florida will be home to OneWeb Satellites’ first-of-its-kind manufacturing capability. Space Florida looks forward to watching OneWeb Satellites’ facility change the landscape of aerospace manufacturing and welcomes the company to Exploration Park.”
LIVESTREAM: Watch the event here on YouTube Live Stream.
About OneWeb Satellites
OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture, equally owned by OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, to design and build the 900 satellites of the OneWeb constellation, which will offer high-speed internet with global coverage.
OneWeb’s mission is to enable affordable Internet access for everyone, connect every school on Earth, and bridge the digital divide by 2027. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites that will provide connectivity to billions of people around the world. It will transparently extend the networks of mobile operators and ISP’s to serve new coverage areas, bringing voice and data access to consumers, businesses, schools, healthcare institutions and other end users. www.oneweb.net
About Airbus Americas
Airbus Americas is the U.S.-based operation of Airbus, a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. Airbus contributes $17 billion to the U.S. economy annually and supports more than 264,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers. In addition to corporate offices, engineering centers, training facilities, MROs and spare parts distribution centers, Airbus has manufacturing facilities producing commercial aircraft, helicopters and now satellites throughout the U.S. www.airbus.com/company/americas
About Space Florida
Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace and spaceport development authority, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive — and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov