Image credits: Airbus
News Article

Global Connectivity Closer Thanks to Satellite “Constellation”

By Sofía Hanna | Thu, 07/15/2021 - 15:00

Airbus and One Web to manufacture and launch up to 650 satellites to provide affordable and high-speed internet access worldwide. To date, both companies have launched eight groups of satellite clusters, for a total of 254 low-Earth orbit spacecraft.

“With 40 percent of our constellation complete, we are on track to achieve global connectivity by the end of next year — meaning OneWeb-powered high-speed, low-latency broadband will be available to Mexico next year,” Airbus Defence and Space told MBN after the eighth launch.

The initiative is part of Airbus and OneWeb’s 50/50 joint venture, which has allowed the companies to launch satellites at a fraction of the cost and time it traditionally takes. “The original assembly line was set up in Toulouse, France, and the Airbus OneWeb Satellites’ facilities in Florida’s Merritt Island in the US can now produce two spacecraft each day (while traditional manufacturing approaches require 12-18 months to produce a single satellite),” mentioned the official Airbus press release.

The satellites’ launch and manufacturing processes follow Airbus’s sustainability practices, which are part of the OEM’s 2035 objective to develop zero-emission aircraft and support a cleaner industry. The latest group release will enable coverage over Northern Europe, the UK, Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic Seas as part of the joint venture´s “Five to 50” plan, which will allow OneWeb to begin delivering services in 2022.

“OneWeb’s network offers fiber-like connectivity from space. Our low Earth orbit satellite constellation will deliver high-speed, low latency connectivity services and can uniquely reach the places that are the hardest to connect. This is important for countries like Mexico which have many communities spread out in rural and remote areas where terrestrial options have not been able to reach or that are home to areas with challenging terrain where laying fiber is a logistical challenge. OneWeb can overcome these barriers,” Airbus Defence and Space told MBN.

This project aims to create a new spectrum of internet availability worldwide and a new way of mass developing satellites. Each satellite weighs less than 150 kg and has fewer electrical connections between subsystems than what would be typical of traditional communications satellites. The first group of satellites was launched in February 2019 but there are 396 missing satellites before the constellation is completed and the next stage for the provision of high-speed internet worldwide begins.

“As a wholesale solution, we offer our service to be distributed through local partners. It is Mexico’s local carriers who uniquely understand where the connectivity gaps are and where service is needed and we are excited to work with partners to bring forward transformational possibilities in agriculture, maritime, aviation, education, job growth and more that we will be able to unlock wherever our services are made available.” Airbus Defence and Space told MBN.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Photo by:   Airbus
Sofía Hanna Sofía Hanna Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst