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OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
by Peter B. de Selding — June 25, 2015


OneWeb announced a roster of strategic partners June 25, 2015 that includes Bharti Enterprises, Coca-Cola, Intelsat, Hughes, Totalplay Telecommunications, and Virgin Galactic. Credit: Airbus Space and Defence via Twitter

WARSAW, Poland – Start-up satellite Internet provider OneWeb LLC, in a move that will quiet, if not silence its doubters, on June 25 announced that it had raised $500 million in equity from sources as varied as Indian telecommunications network provider Bharti Enterprises, Coca-Cola and cellular network operator Totalplay Telecommunications Inc. of Mexico.

“GEO and MEO and LEO systems can work together for this.” — OneWeb CEO Greg Wyler

The announcement in London also included the surprise inclusion of satellite fleet operator Intelsat of Luxembourg and McLean, Virginia, whose position as the world’s largest operator of Ku-band satellite capacity – OneWeb is using Ku-band from low Earth orbit – ostensibly makes it a potential OneWeb adversary.

Intelsat said that its relatively modest $25 million cash investment in OneWeb is part of a relationship in which Intelsat’s maritime and aeronautical customers will be able to use OneWeb satellites in areas where coverage is spotty.

The advantage for OneWeb is substantial. Its constellation of 648 satellites operating at 1,200 kilometers in Ku-band faces potential interference issues around the equator, and any interference would be resolved in favor of the established operators in geostationary orbit, like Intelsat.



OneWeb intends to cover the Earth with a constellation of more than 600 low-Earth-orbiting smallsats built by Airbus Defence and Space. Credit: Airbus video still

Standing on the Shoulders of Constellations Past

OneWeb’s regulatory license allows it to operate, but only on condition that its broadcasts do not bother Ku-band signals from satellites in higher orbit, which by virtue of being there for the past several decades have established priority with international regulators.

Standing on the shoulders of now-dead constellations of 15 years ago that successfully fought for low-orbiting constellations’ ability to coexist with the geostationary operators, OneWeb has committed to lower its power output around the equator to avoid interference.

With Intelsat now on board, OneWeb customers in the equatorial region will have the option of moving onto Intelsat’s Epic high-throughput satellites, as needed, to assure service in what might otherwise be a frequency-contested environment.



Greg Wyler (black shirt) talks with French President Francois Hollande June 15 at the Paris air show, surrounded by, among others, Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders and Airbus Chief Strategy Officer Marwan Lahoud. Credit: Airbus

OneWeb Chief Executive Greg Wyler, in a June 25 interview, said the company may strike similar arrangements with other established satellite fleet operators. The only other satellite operator with 50 geostationary satellites in its fleet is SES of Luxembourg, which is the leading investor in O3b Networks, a company with a constellation of medium-Earth-orbit Internet delivery satellites. O3b was founded by Wyler.

“We are not against GEO or MEO systems,” Wyler said. “The addition of Intelsat should demonstrate that. The idea is to get Internet out everywhere on the planet. GEO and MEO and LEO systems can work together for this.”

OneWeb also announced June 25 that the Arianespace consortium of Evry, France, would be the principal launch-service provider for OneWeb’s initial constellation.

Arianespace signed a contract with OneWeb for 21 launches aboard Russian Soyuz rockets, which Arianespace commercializes both at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and at Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport on the northeast coast of South America.

In a conference call with journalists, Arianespace Chief Executive Stephane Israel said Arianespace’s first OneWeb launch, in late 2017, will carry 10 OneWeb pilot satellites into orbit from the European spaceport.




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 With #OneWeb CEO Greg Wyler and @richardbranson in London. I’m the only one with a tie, but Richard is changing that!
4:15 PM - Jun 25, 2015
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The remaining 20 Soyuz launches – the contract includes options for additional Soyuz rockets and the future Ariane 6 vehicle – will occur in 2018 and 2019, each carrying 32 OneWeb satellites. Israel said it’s likely that most of these will occur from the Baikonur launch base.

Israel decline to disclose the contract’s value beyond saying it was between $1 billion and $2 billion. A separate contract with OneWeb will cover design and construction of a dispenser to fit under the Soyuz rocket fairing to carry the OneWeb spacecraft into orbit and separate them.

OneWeb contracted with Virgin Galactic, a division of Virgin Group — an anchor investor in OneWeb — to use the LauncherOne rocket, now in development for 39 launch campaigns, each carrying between one and three satellites for constellation-maintenance duties.

In addition to Virgin, Bharti, Totalplay, Intelsat and Coca-Cola, the OneWeb investor lineup announced June 25 included:

• Airbus Group, which has an agreement with OneWeb —not yet a contract – to build 900 OneWeb satellites, most in the United States.

• Qualcomm Inc., the large U.S. chipmaker whose chip design will be used for OneWeb’s hubs and user terminals.

• Hughes Network Systems, a large satellite broadband terminal manufacturer.

Wyler said that with the satellite builder, launch-service providers and ground-system manufacturers now lined up, he is confident that OneWeb’s total capital cost will be in the previously estimated range of $2.5 billion to $3 billion.

Securing the first $500 million, Wyler said, means OneWeb — based in Britain’s Channel Islands — will not need a second round of funding until 2017.


Source: https://spacenews.com/news-analysis-onewebs-big-announcement-should-quiet-doubters/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
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OneWeb gets $1.2 billion in SoftBank-led investment
by Caleb Henry — December 19, 2016 [SpaceNews]


Japan-based SoftBank led a $1.2 billion investment round in OneWeb, and has also become a strategic partner, with one of its directors, Ronald Fisher, joining OneWeb’s board of directors.

WASHINGTON – OneWeb has raised $1.2 billion in an investor round led by SoftBank, completing the non-debt financing the start up needs to build its satellite internet constellation.

Japan-based SoftBank invested $1 billion of the total $1.2 billion, and has also become a strategic partner, with one of its directors, Ronald Fisher, joining OneWeb’s board of directors.

Combined with the $500 million OneWeb raised in June 2015, the total amount gathered now stands at $1.7 billion out of an expected total cost of $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion for the full constellation of 900 small satellites.

OneWeb Founder Greg Wyler told SpaceNews that thanks to SoftBank, the company has raised more from investors than originally anticipated, allowing OneWeb to forgo a third investment round.

“The plan was that the $500 million raised in June of 2015 would last us about 18 months,” Wyler shared. “Then, in that time, we would raise another $500 million, and about a year after that we would raise another $500 million. With SoftBank we raised the B round and compressed the B and the C rounds together.”

Wyler said the company found the second round quickly oversubscribed. Conversations with SoftBank started only a few months ago. Wyler said OneWeb’s previous partners committed additional funding in this second round to reach the $1.2 billion total. Airbus Group, Intelsat, Bharti Enterprises,  Totalplay, Hughes Network Systems, Qualcomm, Coca-Cola Co., and the Virgin Group are all existing investors. Wyler did not name which partners contributed a second time, but said the second round fulfills all the capital OneWeb intends to gain from its equity investors.

“We planned for $1.5 billion in total funding, and we have exceeded that, so there are no current plans to go into the markets to raise more money,” he said.

To complete the system, OneWeb plans to use debt financing, Wyler said. After building the first 10 satellites in France, OneWeb plans to produce the rest in the United States, with parts also coming from Canada, the U.K. and elsewhere. With a presence in the U.S., France and Canada, OneWeb is positioned to tap export-credit financing from three export-credit agencies that have been supportive of satellite ventures in recent years.

In a Dec. 12 joint statement, SoftBank and OneWeb said the new capital will support the construction of a manufacturing facility in Exploration Park, Florida, capable of churning out 15 satellites per week, and is expected to create nearly 3,000 new U.S. jobs in engineering, manufacturing and supporting roles over the next four years.

Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank said in the statement that the OneWeb investment is the beginning of greater investment in the U.S. following a recent meet up with President-elect Donald Trump.

“Earlier this month I met with President-Elect Trump and shared my commitment to investing and creating jobs in the U.S. This is the first step in that commitment. America has always been at the forefront of innovation and technological development and we are thrilled to be playing a part in continuing to drive that growth as we work to create a truly globally connected ecosystem,” Son said.

Wyler said the SoftBank investment does not constitute a commitment on OneWeb’s part to build or source materials for its constellation from Japan. However, given SoftBank’s portfolio of tech-companies, Wyler said OneWeb will be working with them “to learn and gain all the support we can.” SoftBank is the majority owner of U.S. mobile network Sprint, has shares in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, and this summer acquired semiconductor company Arm Holdings for $32 billion.

Wyler said it is possible OneWeb could have all 900 satellites orbited by 2020. Initial services would start around 300 satellites, he said.

Wyler said it was SoftBank’s resonance with the vision of OneWeb that sparked the billion-dollar investment. Son, he said, “believed in the need for global internet access, global knowledge infrastructure, the mission of connecting every school by 2022 and the excitement for bridging the digital divide.

He said OneWeb also gave itself a deadline recently for connecting what is now, based on International Telecommunication Union numbers from the UN agency’s ICT Facts & Figures 2016 report, the almost four billion people that lack access to the internet.

“By 2027, we want to fully bridge the digital divide,” Wyler said. “That is an incredibly difficult goal, but we believe we have a path that will take us there.”

Once complete, OneWeb expects its constellation to provide more than 10 terabits per second of new capacity, supporting 2G to 5G communications and Wi-Fi.


Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-gets-1-2-billion-in-softbank-led-investment/

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OneWeb weighing 2,000 more satellites
by Tereza Pultarova and Caleb Henry — February 24, 2017 [SpaceNews]


OneWeb founder Greg Wyler during a Nov. 10, 2015 interview with SpaceNews Silicon Valley correspondent Debra Werner. Credit: SpaceNews

“We are adding 2,000 satellites at different altitudes in low Earth orbit,” Wyler told SpaceNews in London. “We have priority rights to another 2,000 satellites — 1,972 satellites, to be precise."
LONDON and WASHINGTON — Satellite telecom startup OneWeb, emboldened by the oversubscribed $1.2 billion Softbank-led investment gained in December, is on the verge of adding another 2,000 satellites to its previously proposed constellation of several hundred satellites.

OneWeb made a big splash in June 2015 when it went public with an impressive roster of investors pledging some $500 million to deploy more than 600 small, low-orbiting satellites to blanket the Earth in Ku-band broadband connectivity.

On Wednesday, Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder and executive chairman, told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London that the company has sold a considerable portion of the capacity of its initial planned constellation and is seriously considering quadrupling its size.

“We are adding 2,000 satellites at different altitudes in low Earth orbit,” Wyler told SpaceNews in London. “We have priority rights to another 2,000 satellites — 1,972 satellites, to be precise. With Softbank we have reinvigorated our activities and started talking about the strong possibility that we will be adding to the constellation using our priority rights.”

The expansion plans materialized after Japanese mogul Masyoshi Son, the CEO of SoftBank, jumped on board with a $1 billion investment. Previous investors committed to an additional $200 million, bringing OneWeb’s total capital raised to $1.7 billion. 

“[Son] has really put the throttles full-forward when it comes to our mission of bridging the digital divide globally by 2027,” Wyler said in London.

“We are not talking about it yet, but we will start talking about it soon. You will hear about some great launch scale step function changes to our plans and improvements,” the 47-year-old entrepreneur continued. “We are really looking at many new things. You will see some more satellites in a few places that you wouldn’t expect.”

In addition to its official focus on connecting the world’s four billion unconnected citizens to the world wide web by the end of the next decade, OneWeb is eyeing the nascent Internet of Things sector, connected cars and in-flight connectivity.

Adding 1,972 satellites to OneWeb’s previously announced 648 puts the total constellation at 2,620. In a telephone interview with SpaceNews on Thursday evening, Wyler said OneWeb is very actively considering this level of expansion, but was less committal than at the London event.

“We always had this as a possibility,” he said. “What we are doing is really difficult. Our team has made tremendous progress. When looking at some of the accomplishments that have become real and validated over the past several months, we’ve been strongly encouraged that this next phase should be accelerated. Our shareholders are pushing us hard to accelerate because the interest in demand and in the need to accomplish our mission is quite pressing.”


Artist’s rendering of the factory OneWeb Satellites is building in Exploration Park, Florida. Credit: OneWeb

The first 10 OneWeb spacecraft are scheduled to launch about a year from now on a Europeanized Soyuz rocket from Arianespace. Those, Wyler said, will provide service as part of the full constellation.

In London, Wyler also suggested that although the company hasn’t formally announced having sold any capacity — save perhaps Gogo’s March 2016 deal with Intelsat for combined geostationary and LEO capacity — that demand from the world’s telecommunications operators is strong. When asked how much capacity he expects to have sold by the time the initial constellation launches, he replied: “all of it.”

Speaking by phone Thursday night, Wyler said the decision on whether to quadruple the size of the OneWeb constellation will be made before the end of the year.

“I don’t want to say we are definitely doing it, but I can say that we are very strongly considering it, and based upon our priority rights, we have always had this as a possibility,” he said. “Our first system has 1.5 to 2 terabits of forward capacity, and we will be very substantially increasing that.”


SpaceNews staff writer Caleb Henry contributed from Washington.

Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-weighing-2000-more-satellites/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
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OneWeb breaks ground on a Florida factory that will build thousands of satellites
by Caleb Henry — March 16, 2017 [SpaceNews]


Representatives from OneWeb Satellites and its partners broke ground March 16 on the location for OneWeb Satellite's future factory in Florida. Credit: Airbus

WASHINGTON — OneWeb Satellites, the joint venture between rising satellite operator OneWeb and manufacturing giant Airbus, broke ground March 16 on a dedicated factory that will build thousands of OneWeb satellites instead of the hundreds originally envisioned.

OneWeb Satellites Chief Executive Brian Holz said the $85 million Exploration Park, Florida, facility — which is scheduled to open a year from now — will go above and beyond the initial 900-satellite contract OneWeb placed in January last year.

“We’ll produce over 2,000 satellites largely to be flown in LEO, low-Earth orbit, to be a key kingpin in that architecture,” Holz said during the ceremony. “That’s going to allow us the foundation, with new automation techniques, to lower the cost of satellite delivery, and also shorten the schedules for our customer and create value that is not in the industry today.”

OneWeb Founder Greg Wyler tipped his hand regarding OneWeb’s bigger constellation plan in February, telling an audience in London and later affirming to SpaceNews that the company was actively weighing about 2,000 satellites on top of the initially announced 648. Since then, OneWeb has described its initial “gen-1” constellation as 882 satellites, and filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for permission to serve the U.S. market with 2,000 more satellites split between LEO and medium-Earth orbit.

OneWeb Satellites claims the Florida factory  will be able to produce up to three satellites per day. In a March 16 interview with SpaceNews, Mike Cosentino, president of Airbus Defense and Space Inc., expressed confidence that the joint venture will be able to meet this production rate.

“Once we have the manufacturing processes down, once we have the suppliers lined up and the schedule validated, then we will operate in the same fashion as any high-assembly product does. It hasn’t happened with a satellite, but there is no reason we can’t do it with a satellite if you do it with airplanes and automobiles,” he said.



Digital rendering of OneWeb Satellites’ Florida manufacturing plant. Credit: OneWeb Satellites

The first 10 satellites for the overall constellation are planned for construction at an Airbus facility in Toulouse, France. Cosentino said reaching the three-a-day production rate is just as much about the design of the satellites as it is the factory. OneWeb Satellites will validate the production methods in Toulouse and replicate the process in Florida. Each spacecraft will be about the size of a washing machine, he said.

OneWeb Satellites’ Florida factory, like Blue Origin’s launcher factory, is being built just outside the gates of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In a March 16 statement, Wyler said the facility will enable OneWeb “to continuously iterate on the design of our satellites, launch new satellites within hours of completion and create significant opportunity in the U.S.”

Most of OneWeb’s spacecraft are contracted to launch on Arianespace-provided Europeanized Soyuz rockets, but some will launch on two rockets still in development: Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne air-launch system and Blue Origin’s reusable New Glenn rocket.

OneWeb Satellites’ main customer is OneWeb, but the company is not exclusively bound to build satellites for OneWeb alone. The company said it could be ready to build satellites for commercial and government customers in 2018. OneWeb’s first-generation constellation is expected to start launches that year.

Not including subcontractors, OneWeb Satellites anticipates the Florida factory will create around 250 new jobs, bringing employment opportunities to a region still feeling the effects of the 2011 shutdown of NASA space shuttle program. The company expects to create thousands of more jobs — though not all in Florida — through its supplier base. Many of those suppliers are likely to set up locations of their own in Florida to keep pace with OneWeb Satellites’ demand. Holz said component manufacturer Ruag Space, based in Switzerland, is bringing about 50 jobs to Florida related to OneWeb.

Holz said OneWeb Satellites will provide connectivity to a school in Brevard County, Florida, linking the academic institution with another school in Toulouse as a recognition of the company’s vision of connecting 2 million schools around the world. Once OneWeb’s own satellites are in orbit, he said the connection would switch to using that system.

OneWeb has the goal of bridging the digital divide by 2025, and has affirmed that goal has not changed with its pending merger with global geostationary satellite operator Intelsat.


Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-breaks-ground-on-a-florida-factory-that-will-build-thousands-of-satellites/

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OneWeb Satellites to keep Toulouse factory open for other customers
by Caleb Henry — September 12, 2017 [Spacenews]


OneWeb Satellite's first production facility in Toulouse, France. Credit: OneWeb Satellites/Dominique Eskenazi.

The OneWeb-Airbus joint venture tasked with building 900 satellites for OneWeb plans to keep its first production line in France running to build satellites for other operators.

OneWeb Satellites is building the first 10 small satellites for OneWeb’s low-Earth orbit broadband constellation in Toulouse, France, before shifting production of the majority of the constellation to a new $85 million factory in Exploration Park, Florida.

But rather than let the infrastructure in France lay idle, OneWeb Satellites wants to repurpose the factory to build more small satellites.

“We always intended to maintain the line in Toulouse as long as we can,” Brian Holz, CEO of OneWeb Satellites, told SpaceNews. “Besides OneWeb, we are hoping to utilize the product in other markets. We will have the Florida lines up and running in the spring next year, and we will use Toulouse for some initial customers outside of OneWeb to begin selling those products.”

Holz said other customers are interested in using OneWeb Satellite’s production volume in Toulouse for constellation projects of their own. He described the market as “very robust.”

“I think it’s going to be really exciting when we get into next year,” he said. “You’ll see some other customers coming online soon.”

OneWeb and Airbus created the joint venture with the ability to build satellites for other companies and organizations besides OneWeb, but so far no other customers have been announced. Holz said prospective customers have an interest in multiple mission types beyond telecommunications.

OneWeb Satellites will build other satellites roughly the same size as the 150-kilogram satellites under construction for OneWeb. Some designs may grow slightly larger, but OneWeb Satellites doesn’t intend to build much smaller than that.

“We won’t do everything. We are a certain size spacecraft with a certain capability and we can tweak some of the parameters a little bit. It’s not everything for everybody, but there are some very interesting things we can do,” he said.

OneWeb’s first launch is scheduled for March 2018 on a Soyuz rocket from Arianespace. Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder, said in June that the first production satellites from Toulouse should be leaving the factory for Arianespace’s  Kourou, French Guiana, launch site in October. Additional Soyuz launches are to ramp up after March in order for OneWeb to start operational service in 2019. Each Soyuz launch is to carry 32 satellites.

“We will also use Toulouse as a production risk mitigation to Florida,” Holz added. “If we have interruptions in production for whatever reason, or we need to ramp the rate, Toulouse will allow us to do that.”


Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-satellites-to-keep-toulouse-factory-open-for-other-customers/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
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OneWeb shifts first launch to year’s end
by Caleb Henry — May 1, 2018 [SpaceNews]


One of OneWeb's first satellites, built in Toulouse, France by its Airbus joint venture OneWeb Satellites. Credit: OneWeb

WASHINGTON — OneWeb has shifted the debut launch for its satellite megaconstellation to the fourth quarter of the year.

The startup’s first launch of 10 satellites aboard an Arianespace Soyuz rocket was scheduled for this month, but was pushed out toward the end of the year to allow for more testing and to incorporate improved components in the final spacecraft design.

“Our production launches will start in Q4,” Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder, told SpaceNews. “We decided to continue with more ground testing and then go right into production because we can test virtually everything we need on the ground.”

OneWeb is building the first 900 satellites of its constellation through a joint venture with Airbus called OneWeb Satellites. Wyler said the decision to delay was “based on which component revisions were available.”

Backed by SoftBank, Intelsat, Coca-Cola and other investors, OneWeb is creating a constellation of small telecom satellites with the goal of making the internet accessible to everyone on Earth by 2027. How many satellites exactly is still to be determined — OneWeb in March asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to expand its authorization from 720 to 1,980 Ku-band satellites. The company still expects to begin service in 2019, starting with the first few hundred spacecraft.

“As long as we begin our production launches this year we are still on schedule,” Wyler said.

Arianespace is launching the bulk of OneWeb’s first generation constellation, and has 21 Soyuz launches contracted, along with options for more with Soyuz and the next generation Ariane 6. In a January interview, Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel was noncommittal on how many OneWeb Soyuz launches the company would do this year, saying it would “launch at least once for OneWeb this year and maybe more.”

“There is a saying commonly used in engineering: ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good,’” Wyler said. “There are always margins that you could increase with more testing and design modifications. We are using this time to increase our margins and also implement some improvements. We didn’t absolutely need to do everything we are doing, but after internal discussion, we are taking advantage of the timing opportunity to iterate.”

Since OneWeb’s first launch will only have 10 satellites onboard, the rocket will travel straight to their 1,200-kilometer low Earth orbit instead of the 500-kilometer drop off planned for subsequent flights, Wyler said. The near-direct insert cuts a few months of orbit raising time that would have relied on each satellite’s internal propulsion.

Wyler estimated there might be a two month gap between the first launch and the rest of the launch campaign, which consists of a Soyuz launch every 21 days. After the first launch, each Soyuz will carry 36 satellites, with some occasionally carrying 34, he said.

OneWeb also has a contract with Virgin Orbit for 39 LauncherOne missions and a memorandum of understanding with Blue Origin for five New Glenn launches to supplement its primary Arianespace campaign. Neither of those vehicles are launching yet, however.

Wyler said OneWeb’s first generation satellites have “actually beat our plans,” on mass, weighing in at around 145 kilograms each instead of the projected 150 kilograms.

“We are at about 14.5 kilograms per Gbps. Each satellite is about the same performance as the satellites I designed for O3b, yet we are putting nine times as many on a rocket,” he said.

Prior to OneWeb, Wyler founded O3b Networks, a company since bought by Luxembourgian fleet operator SES, that provides connectivity services through a constellation of medium-Earth-orbit satellites. Wyler said each OneWeb satellite provides nine times as much throughput per kilogram as an original O3b satellite.

“Our next generation, which we are working on now, will see at least a 15X increase in performance,” he said.


Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-shifts-first-launch-to-years-end/

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Amid concerns, OneWeb gets vague about constellation’s cost
by Caleb Henry and Brian Berger — September 12, 2018 [SpaceNews]


Eric Béranger relinquished his role as chief executive of OneWeb last week, splitting responsibilities with the company’s new CEO Adrian Steckel (SpaceNews/Brian Berger)

PARIS — As OneWeb strives to complete the financing of its satellite megaconstellation, the company has stopped affirming the cost targets envisioned when the program began.

OneWeb in 2015 set the goal of building 900 satellites for $500,000 each or less, with the total estimated cost of building, launching and operating the constellation at $3.5 billion.

Speaking Sept. 11 at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference here, OneWeb President and Chief Operating Officer Eric Béranger refused to affirm satellite unit costs or total program costs despite industry speculation that both have grown well beyond the starting estimates.

“We do not communicate about the overall cost of system,” Béranger said during a panel discussion focused on non-geostationary-orbiting satellite constellations.

Asked by SpaceNews if the satellites could still come in under $500,000 each, Béranger said only that they were now “below $1 million” per unit.

Industry analysts who follow OneWeb said as recently as August that OneWeb is looking at roughly $700,000 to $900,000 per satellite once serial production begins at a brand-new $85 million factory in Exploration Park, Florida. OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space, is building the first 10 satellites in Toulouse, France. Those initial satellites are due to launch in December or early 2019 depending on Soyuz launch availability with Arianespace.

“There has been widespread industry skepticism about that $500,000 number for a long time,” said a financial analyst and long-time industry observer here. “The problem is that once they publicly announce that the price has increased, they lose credibility with potential investors…hence the hedging. Eventually the truth comes out.”


“A hell of a job”

If OneWeb was already causing heartburn across the industry, events of the past week have not helped matters.

On Sept. 7, as top space executives were headed here for the World Satellite Business Week’s annual Summit on Satellite Financing, OneWeb announced that Béranger relinquished his role as chief executive of OneWeb last week, splitting responsibilities with the company’s new CEO Adrian Steckel.

Steckel’s prior employer, Uphold, described OneWeb as a “$6B Global Satellite Broadband Effort” in a Sept. 7 press release announcing his departure from the digital currency company he co-founded. OneWeb spokesperson Katie Dowd told SpaceNews Sept. 8 that the $6 billion figure Uphold referenced was not accurate. A corrected press release Uphold issued Sept. 9 omitted any mention of OneWeb’s projected price tag.

Steckel is OneWeb’s fourth CEO in as many years. Béranger said funding was at the center of OneWeb’s most recent management shakeup, allowing him to focus on building the company while Steckel pursues additional financing.

“To be honest, I am very happy to see [Steckel] coming because between the road shows and building the company, it’s such a hectic period,” Béranger said. “It is quite a hell of a job.”


Case closed?

OneWeb has raised $1.7 billion in equity since 2015, with Japanese tech giant SoftBank providing $1 billion of that total. After closing a SoftBank-led round in late 2016, OneWeb said it would finish the rest of its financing needs by borrowing money. Some 21 months later, the company has not revealed any debt financing.

OneWeb has suppliers and manufacturing partners in the United States, France and Canada, the three countries with export-credit agencies known for their participation in satellite financing.

In the U.S., the Export-Import Bank has lacked enough board members for a quorum since July  2015 and consequently remains unable to approve projects over $10 million. President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to head the bank, Kimberly Reed, is still awaiting Senate confirmation.

Meanwhile, BPI France, formerly Coface, has expressed reservations about whether OneWeb’s satellites will have enough French content to justify its support. After building the first 10 in Toulouse, OneWeb intends to shift production to its new Florida factory.

In Paris, Béranger put a brave face on OneWeb’s outlook, saying the company has a “huge pipeline” with hundreds of prospective customers that are “extremely eager to see us up and running.”


Although OneWeb’s initial launch has slipped from the May target it held as the year began, the company still expects to have its first spacecraft orbit within the next few months or so.

“All of this is giving us an extremely good feeling in terms of closing our business case,” he said.


Source: https://spacenews.com/amid-concerns-oneweb-gets-vague-about-constellations-cost/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #7 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:03 »
OneWeb scales back baseline constellation by 300 satellites
by Caleb Henry — December 13, 2018 [SpaceNews]


One of OneWeb's first satellites, built in Toulouse, France by its Airbus joint venture OneWeb Satellites. Credit: OneWeb

WASHINGTON — Satellite broadband startup OneWeb, now three months from the launch of its first satellites, is reducing the size of its initial low Earth orbit constellation by a third.

Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder, said the company will need only 600 satellites or so instead of 900 after ground tests of the first satellites demonstrated better than expected performance.

“What it does is it lowers the cost structure to reach that first phase of global coverage,” Wyler said in a Dec. 13 interview. “Rarely do you see costs go down, so it’s a pretty big deal.”

OneWeb had been under increased scrutiny within the satellite industry amid speculation that its satellite costs had grown well beyond their initial $500,000 target. Wyler confirmed the satellites had passed $500,000 a unit, but said the exceedance was minimal.

“It is higher than the goal, but it’s significantly lower than where things would have been predicted three years ago,” he said.

Wyler said OneWeb has added back ups for all major components on the satellites, including redundant computers and four reaction wheels per satellite, to improve the reliability of each spacecraft. OneWeb is building its satellites through a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space.

Wyler declined to quantify how much less the OneWeb constellation will cost at 600 satellites, or to state the full expected cost of the system. OneWeb officials have stated that the satellites are below $1 million each, but have avoided greater specificity.

OneWeb has raised $1.7 billion to date from investors including Japanese conglomerate Softbank, fleet operator Intelsat and soft drink giant Coca-Cola. The heavily capitalized startup is seeking to raise the rest of its needs — at least several hundred million dollars if not over a billion based on previous estimates —  through export credit agencies, though little progress has been visible since the last equity raise in late 2016.

Wyler said OneWeb “continue[s ] to work with the ECAs” and is “very positive” about the process, but declined to give further details.

“OneWeb clearly needs to ensure that its initial constellation is financeable,” Tim Farrar, president of the telecom analyst group TMF Associates, said by email. “That will be easier if overall system costs can be cut by building fewer satellites.”

Adrian Steckel, OneWeb’s new CEO, first mentioned the constellation modification Dec. 12 at the Morgan Stanley Space Summit in New York City, an event that was closed to press.

Farrar said Steckel also indicated that OneWeb’s initial priority would be connecting boats and planes before focusing on internet for the masses.

“It seems likely that these customers would use larger, more powerful terminals compared to a low cost consumer terminal. Thus the overall link performance would be improved and there would be more available capacity per satellite, offsetting any reduction in the number of satellites initially deployed,” Farrar said.

Wyler said 600 is the minimum needed for global coverage. Beyond that, OneWeb is deciding whether it will add 300 first-generation satellites or shift to a second-generation constellation designed to layer on more capacity.

“Our plan is we are first building out for coverage so everyone can have high-speed, low-latency access, and then we have a second generation of satellites which is more focused on capacity, but the capacity will be dynamically placed to the areas where there are customer aggregations with needs for bandwidth,” Wyler said. “Ultimately the system will be extremely large and extremely high in total throughput.”

Wyler said he has “high hopes” that OneWeb will begin service next year, but admitted the service could slip to 2020.

OneWeb’s first 10 satellites launch in February on an Arianespace Soyuz from French Guiana. Arianespace has a contract to launch the bulk of OneWeb’s constellation on another 20 Soyuz rockets.


Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-scales-back-constellation-by-300-satellites/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #8 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:03 »
Arianespace targets 12 launches this year, more counting OneWeb, Vega C debut
by Caleb Henry — January 15, 2019 [SpaceNews]


Arianespace's final launch count for 2019 could be much higher than initial forecasts depending on how many Soyuz launches it conducts for OneWeb. Credit: Arianespace

WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace is planning to conduct a record number of Vega launches this year, and, if OneWeb is ready, a return to launching from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Stéphane Israël, CEO of Evry, France-based Arianespace, said the company has four launches of the light-lift Vega rocket planned for this year, plus the maiden flight of the next-generation Vega C.

Arianespace’s first mission of the year is an Ariane 5 launch on Feb. 5. The rocket will carry two satellites — Arabsat’s Saudi GeoSat-1/Hellas Sat-4 and the Indian space agency ISRO’s GSAT-31 — to geostationary transfer orbit.

All five Ariane 5 missions planned for this year will carry two satellites, as is customary, Israël said in an interview.

Israël said Arianespace has three firm Soyuz launches on its 2019 manifest, starting mid-February with the launch of 10 small telecom satellites for internet megaconstellation startup OneWeb. Israël said the second Soyuz launch is in March with four O3b satellites for fleet operator SES of Luxembourg. The third is a fall dual launch with the European Space Agency’s CHEOPs exoplanet telescope and the Italian Space Agency’s Cosmo-Skymed radar satellite.

Israël said those three Soyuz launches will take place from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana where Arianespace also launches the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and light-lift Vega rockets.

For OneWeb, Arianespace is returning to Baikonur for the first time since a 2013 Soyuz launch for Globalstar. Arianespace, upon winning the OneWeb launch contract in 2015 for 21 Soyuz missions, said then that most of those missions would take place in Baikonur so that the Guiana Space Center could be prioritized for European government missions.

“We are ready for launching in the second part of the year the OneWeb satellites,” Israël said. “The number of launches would depend on the readiness of the satellites.”

Israël said the Soyuz rockets for OneWeb are ready, and that Arianespace will be able to meet OneWeb’s fast-paced cadence of one launch every three weeks so long as OneWeb provides the satellites.

Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder, said the company is ready for the first launch and anticipates having around 150 satellites in orbit by the end of the year.

OneWeb plans on starting service with around 300 satellites, and having full, global coverage with 600 satellites.

Arianespace has four Vega launches this year, not counting the Vega C debut: two Falcon Eye Earth-observation satellites for the United Arab Emirates, the Italian Space Agency’s Prisma Earth-observation satellite, and the proof-of-concept launch of the Small Spacecraft Mission System.

The Italian Space Agency’s Prisma satellite was planned for a 2018 launch, but was pushed out to this year by delays with the European Space Agency’s Aeolus wind-mapping satellite, which launched on a Vega in August.

Israël said Arianespace wants to launch three to four Vega rockets annually now that the launcher, commercially introduced in 2012, has cemented its place in the small-satellite market.

Israël said Arianespace will soon need to discuss an additional Vega production order with Avio of Colleferro, Italy. Arianespace’s last Vega launch of 2019 will use the first of 10 rockets ordered in 2017.

Those 10 Vega rockets — a mix of Vega and Vega C that Israël declined to quantify — should last until 2021 or the beginning of 2022, he said.

Arianespace recorded 1.4 billion euros in revenue for 2018, roughly the same as in 2017 and 2016. Israël said the company expects to break even, but is still tallying its overall financial performance.

Last year Arianespace launched 11 times — six Ariane 5, three Soyuz and two Vega — equal to the year prior but three less than anticipated. The three missions that didn’t take place in 2018 — the Arabsat-ISRO Ariane 5, OneWeb’s first Soyuz and the Italian Space Agency’s Vega launch of Prisma — are all on Arianespace’s manifest this year.


Source: https://spacenews.com/arianespace-targets-12-launches-this-year-more-counting-oneweb-vega-c-debut/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #9 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:03 »
Wyler claims breakthrough in low-cost antenna for OneWeb, other satellite systems
by Caleb Henry — January 25, 2019 [SpaceNews]


Greg Wyler put nearly $10 million into a company called Wafer that has produced a $15 antenna unit. Full user terminals, when completed, could be priced between $200 and $300. Credit: Greg Wyler

WASHINGTON — OneWeb founder Greg Wyler says a self-funded side project of his has developed an antenna module costing $15, paving the way for user terminals priced between $200 and $300.

Wyler, in an interview, said he invested just under $10 million into Wafer LLC, a Danvers, Massachusetts-based company that has created a prototype antenna. After three to four years of effort and more than 500 iterations, the antenna could be commercially available as soon as 2020, he said.

“I knew it was a long shot,” Wyler said. “[But] I knew how important it would be to bridging the digital divide.”

OneWeb’s first six satellites launch Feb. 19  from French Guiana on an Arianespace-operated Soyuz. For large constellations such as OneWeb’s system of 600 to 900 satellites to succeed, high-tech antennas that can track multiple satellites at once are viewed as all but essential.

“They are vital,” Dimitris Mavrakis, an ABI Research analyst covering antennas, told SpaceNews by email.

Constellations in low and medium Earth orbits, unlike geostationary satellites, move across the sky. Keeping in contact with such satellites requires ground terminals capable of tracking the satellites, either by mechanically repositioning a dish or using a stationary antenna that uses so-called electronic steering, or scanning, to maintain the connection.

Wyler said a team of just over 20 people at Wafer have been working on the electronically scanned antenna arrays that would work with OneWeb satellites and other constellations. He said it is still to be determined if Wafer will build the entire user terminal, or just the antenna module.

“The key technology is the antenna,” he said. “You pack that with a modem and a battery, and you have a terminal.”

OneWeb investor Qualcomm is building modems for OneWeb user terminals.

Wyler described the antenna as the “critical and hardest subcomponent” of the terminal.

“The entire antenna is less than an eighth inch thick,” he said. “So the breakthrough is that you can have an extremely light, thin, low-power antenna that’s very cost effective and can be produced in large volumes.”

Satellite operators have bemoaned the slow pace of antenna technology development. Mavrakis said the high part count for electronically scanned antennas has made cost reduction difficult. Even with breakthroughs using metamaterials, like the approach of Redmond, Washington-based Kymeta, progress has been slow, he said.

If Wafer’s antennas are productized as full terminals by 2020 as envisioned, they would enter the market the same year OneWeb expects to activate its satellite broadband service. OneWeb anticipates starting a rapid launch campaign in the second half of 2019, with Soyuz launches every three weeks carrying more than 30 satellites each. In a previous interview, Wyler said OneWeb anticipates having 150 satellites in orbit by the end of 2019. The company is targeting 300 satellites in orbit before starting service.

OneWeb is seeking to raise additional funds while the cost of its satellites has grown past their $500,000 target. A Jan. 21 Financial Times article said it will cost OneWeb more than $1 million to build a satellite — more than twice the goal stated at the beginning of the program. Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb are building the constellation together through a joint venture called OneWeb Satellites.

OneWeb originally estimated the cost of the complete satellite system at $3.5 billion, but no longer affirms that number. Better than expected satellite performance from ground testing led OneWeb to reduce its baseline constellation for global coverage from 900 to 600 satellites, lowering overall costs should OneWeb forgo the last 300 spacecraft.

Wyler said by email that OneWeb has raised more than $2 billion, but less than $2.5 billion, to date, having chosen to not publicly disclose every funding round. Previous publicly disclosed funding had put OneWeb’s total capital raised at $1.7 billion, with the majority coming from Softbank.

Early results suggest the Wafer prototype could provide downlink speeds of 50 megabits per second, Wyler said. That’s twice the rate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission considers acceptable for fixed broadband connections. Combining multiple antenna “tiles” would provide higher throughputs from a single terminal, he said.

Wyler said Wafer has focused on industrialization of its antenna technology, with an eye towards manufacturability “at consumer electronics scale.”

“In order to meet market needs for emerging markets, in the large scale consumer markets, you need to be between $200 and $300 — in the box and delivered to the customer,” he said. “That’s a price point all in, everything done.”

That definition does not apply to smaller markets, like aviation, he said. Aviation terminals are more expensive because of lengthy certification procedures and modifications needed to ensure they work in harsh environments.

Wyler said the Wafer antenna is designed first to work in Ku-band — the same frequency as OneWeb’s first satellites — but could also work in Ka-, X-, V- and other bands with little change in cost.

Wyler said the antennas work with satellites regardless of orbit.


Source: https://spacenews.com/wyler-claims-breakthrough-in-low-cost-antenna-for-oneweb-other-satellite-systems/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #10 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:04 »
UK jump-starts OneWeb-ESA program with $23 million pledge
by Caleb Henry — February 18, 2019 [SpaceNews]


Artist's rendition of a OneWeb satellite in low Earth orbit. Credit: OneWeb Satellites
 
Multiyear investment begins with 18-month contract worth few million pounds.

WASHINGTON — The U.K. Space Agency announced Feb. 18 it is providing 18 million pounds ($23.3 million) to satellite broadband startup OneWeb through the agency’s participation in the 22-nation European Space Agency.

The U.K. is the first of six ESA member states plus Canada to put forward funding for OneWeb Sunrise — a program aimed at preparing OneWeb’s constellation of 600 to 900 satellites to stitch into upcoming fifth-generation communications networks on the ground.

OneWeb’s first six satellites are scheduled to launch Feb. 26 on an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from French Guiana, starting a launch campaign that could see up to 150 OneWeb satellites orbited by year’s end.

In an interview, Xavier Lobao, head of ESA’s future telecommunications projects division, said the agency is finalizing an 18-month Phase One contract with OneWeb worth a few million pounds for analysis and design work. A Phase Two contract will be discussed at ESA’s ministerial conference in Seville, Spain, this November, where member states will request funding to build, launch and test OneWeb Sunrise-developed technologies, Lobao said.

Lobao said the U.K. is ahead of the other OneWeb Sunrise participants — Canada, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland — in that it has now already allocated funding for both phases of the program. Canada is a “cooperating state” with ESA that participates on programs despite not being a full member.

The U.K., amid Brexit negotiations, has emphasized the importance of its work with ESA, which is a separate body from the European Union. The U.K. Space Agency said OneWeb plans to employ up to 200 people in the country at one of the company’s business units.

OneWeb counts the British divisions of Teledyne and CGI as suppliers for the satellite constellation it is building through a joint venture with European manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space.

OneWeb Sunrise is led by ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, or ARTES, division. ARTES funds programs through public-private partnerships, providing up to 50 percent of funds needed. Lobao said OneWeb is funding a “substantial part” of the program, but declined to specify how much exactly.

Adrian Steckel, OneWeb’s chief executive, said in a statement released by the U.K. Space Agency that the ARTES investment will help the company fulfill its goal of connecting people worldwide.

“Thanks to this support, we will focus together on next generation technologies that will be game changers for realizing global 5G connectivity,” he said.

OneWeb did not respond to SpaceNews’ request for comment.

Lobao said the amount put forward by the U.K. represents only a fraction of the envisioned total for OneWeb Sunrise. Indications of interest from ESA member states suggest up to 12 countries may participate in Phase Two of the program, he said.

Lobao listed four topics in addition to 5G that OneWeb Sunrise will focus on: artificial intelligence for flying the satellites; new payload and user terminal technology; spectrum and signal interference management; and active debris removal.

Lobao said the payload technology focuses on the second generation of satellites, but does not have a solid demarcation between the first generation.

“The second generation is not at the end of generation one,” he said. “It is more the ‘NewSpace’ way that is continuous. When you have something that is a mature new technology and an innovation that makes sense, the next batch of satellites you are launching incorporates that. Little by little, gradually, they will be incorporating new technologies into the constellation.”

OneWeb founder Greg Wyler, in a Jan. 14 interview with SpaceNews, said OneWeb will seek to iterate on the first generation of satellites, with spacecraft performance determining if 900 of them are needed.

“It’s not a question of whether there will more capacity from the system: the question is how,” he said. “It may be continue with Gen-1, or it may be step function into Gen-2.”

Wyler tweeted Jan. 23 that the Gen-2 satellites will have at least 50 times more capacity, and will likely expand the entire constellation to 1,980 satellites.

Lobao said OneWeb is being very proactive on satellite disposal and preventing space debris. ESA has identified roughly half a dozen providers of active debris removal services that could support OneWeb, he said, but specified that it will be up to OneWeb to determine the feasibility of each approach.


Source: https://spacenews.com/uk-jump-starts-oneweb-esa-program-with-23-million-pledge/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #11 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:05 »
OneWeb’s first six satellites in orbit following Soyuz launch
by Caleb Henry — February 27, 2019 [SpaceNews]


OneWeb's first launch enables the company to bring its spectrum into use before an ITU deadline this November, ensuring vital access to airwaves for a constellation that could ultimately number 1,980 satellites. Credit: Arianespace webcast.

KOUROU, French Guiana — The first six satellites in a constellation that could one day number close to 2,000 were successfully launched Feb. 27 aboard a Soyuz rocket.

The Russian rocket, adapted for European launch provider Arianespace to operate in the tropical weather that defines the company’s spaceport in French Guiana, deployed the first two satellites 63 minutes after a 4:37 p.m. Eastern liftoff. Arianespace confirmed separation of the last four 97 minutes after liftoff, about 15 minutes after the scheduled separation time due to a lack of ground stations in range of the rocket as it passed overhead.

The launch marked the end of the beginning for OneWeb, a British company founded by American entrepreneur Greg Wyler in 2012 that seeks to make low-cost internet a global phenomenon via a constellation of mini-fridge-sized satellites each weighing roughly 150 kilograms.

The six satellites launched to a 1,000-kilometer orbit, where they will begin a 60- to 90-day test regime that includes orbit raising for another 200 kilometers. OneWeb originally planned to launch the satellites directly into their 1,200-kilometer operational orbits, but tweaked those plans sometime before the launch for reasons that were not immediately clear.

In the weeks preceding the launch, OneWeb also changed the number of satellites from 10 to six, opting to hold some back in the event of an anomaly. Four mass simulators from APCO Technologies of Switzerland substituted for the withdrawn spacecraft.

Soyuz is the most launched space rocket in the world with around 1,900 launches, but has struggled with quality control issues endemic to Russian launchers in recent years. Soyuz rockets have experienced four anomalies in 19 months, including one just five days ago that exhibited what Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël described as “non-nominal third-stage behavior.”

A review of that mission, which successfully orbited the Egypsat-A observation satellite for Egypt, delayed OneWeb’s launch by one day. None of the four anomalies happened during Arianespace-operated missions.

OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel, in remarks made this morning, described the company’s first launch as of near-vital importance.

“We’ve achieved a lot, which means we got here, and if today doesn’t go right, it will almost be for nought because it is going to be very complicated to get us back on the right path,” he said.

A major function of these six satellites is to “bring into use” OneWeb’s spectrum, meeting a deadline from the International Telecommunication Union to employ the spectrum or else lose rights to it. Wyler said the deadline is Nov. 29.

Steckel said today was about “getting our spectrum and making what was a project into a company.”

OneWeb has already exhausted more than $2 billion on preparing its low-Earth-orbit constellation, Steckel said, having secured launches, built ground stations and established the infrastructure to build two satellites a day through a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space.

Today’s launch and the completion of in-orbit testing paves the way for the next 20 Soyuz launches, each carrying up to 36 spacecraft, Steckel said.

Israël said the subsequent OneWeb launches will start in the second half of the year from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The majority of the remaining Soyuz missions are expected to occur from Baikonur, though Europe’s Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, and Russia’s new Vostochny Cosmodrome in the country’s Far East are also possibilities, Israël said.

Virgin Orbit is also expected to start launching OneWeb satellites this year using its dedicated smallsat vehicle LauncherOne. Wyler, responding to a SpaceNews inquiry, tweeted that the four satellites OneWeb withdrew from the Feb. 27 Soyuz mission could launch this year with Virgin Orbit, which has a contract for 39 missions using the LauncherOne air-launched rocket.

Virgin Orbit is a spinoff of Richard Branson’s crewed spaceflight company Virgin Galactic. Branson said Feb. 27 that Virgin Orbit’s first launch is scheduled to occur “hopefully in just a handful of months time.”

Steckel said LauncherOne can carry one to two OneWeb satellites at a time, but will mainly be used for fleet replenishment rather than constellation deployment.

Arianespace and OneWeb announced after the launch that OneWeb will also fly satellites on the inaugural flight of Ariane 6. The mission, scheduled for 2020, will use the Ariane 62, a version with two strap-on boosters. Israël tweeted that the OneWeb-Ariane 6 launch agreement includes options for two more Ariane 6 missions, and will be finalized next month.

OneWeb anticipates having around 150 satellites in orbit by year’s end, starting regional service in 2020 with around 300 satellites, and reaching global coverage in 2021 with 600 satellites. Wyler said that with six satellites, OneWeb can provide service for 18 minutes at a time, with that number scaling as launches progress.

Save for this first mission, OneWeb’s other satellites will separate from their launchers roughly 500 kilometers above the Earth and use onboard electric propulsion to reach their final 1,200-kilometer orbit — a journey Wyler estimated will take about four months.

Steckel said the company is targeting 648 satellites initially, with 48 serving as in-orbit spares. Beyond that, OneWeb is deciding if it will scale its first-generation constellation to 900 satellites or shift into a second generation that would likely increase the total constellation to 1,980 satellites.

Each first-generation OneWeb satellite costs $1 million to produce. OneWeb Satellites, the joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus, built the first 10 satellites in Toulouse, France, but plan to build the remainder of the first-generation constellation at a new $85 million factory in Exploration Park, Florida.

OneWeb announced its first customers Feb. 27: satellite teleport and network operator Talia and Italian telecommunications company Intermatica.

OneWeb is targeting several markets for connectivity, including inflight Wi-Fi, maritime and government users, but also has a mission to bring internet access to every school in the world. Steckel said the company will start pursuing that goal by sponsoring connectivity for six schools — one each in Alaska, Rwanda, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador and Honduras — for 10 years. The Soyuz rocket carrying OneWeb’s first satellites also bore the logo of FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a nonprofit focused on instilling youth with a fascination for science and technology.


Source: https://spacenews.com/first-six-oneweb-satellites-launch-on-soyuz-rocket/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #12 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:06 »
First six OneWeb satellites launched from French Guiana
February 27, 2019 Stephen Clark [Spaceflight Now]


A Soyuz ST-B rocket lifted off Wednesday from the Guiana Space Center with the first six OneWeb broadband satellites. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Carrying the ambition of an entrepreneur with a passion for connecting the world, a half-dozen satellites lifted off Wednesday aboard a Soyuz rocket from the edge of the Amazon jungle in South America to kick off a series of at least 21 planned launches to deploy OneWeb’s global Internet network.

A Soyuz ST-B rocket fired into a mostly cloudy sky at 6:37 p.m. local time in French Guiana (2137 GMT; 4:37 p.m. EST), sending the six refrigerator-sized north from the European-run spaceport with a push from 32 engine nozzles generating more than 900,000 pounds of thrust.

In less than 10 minutes, the Soyuz ST-B rocket’s first stage boosters, second stage and third stage fired in succession to propel the satellites out of the atmosphere. A Fregat upper stage took over for a pair of burns to place the spacecraft into orbit.

The Russian-made rocket aimed to deliver the six spacecraft, built by an industrial consortium named OneWeb Satellites formed by Airbus Defense and Space and OneWeb, to a polar orbit roughly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) above Earth, tilted 87.77 degrees to the equator.

Arianespace, the French launch services provider responsible for Soyuz flights from French Guiana, declared success on the mission after telemetry data relayed from the rocket indicated all six of the 325-pound (147.7-kilogram) spacecraft separated in the targeted orbit.

The satellites launched Wednesday will help OneWeb secure the Ku-band radio spectrum the network will use for global broadband services. OneWeb has a Nov. 29 deadline imposed by the International Telecommunications Union to begin operating in the spectrum.

They are also pathfinders for OneWeb’s planned “mega-constellation,” and engineers will wring out every system on the spacecraft. Built in an assembly line fashion, they carry plasma thrusters and miniaturized high-power transmitters, antennas and other equipment necessary to broadcast Ku-band signals to support OneWeb’s global network.

If the satellites all work as expected, OneWeb aims to begin a regular cadence of Soyuz launches later this year from launch pads in French Guiana, Russia and Kazakhstan carrying between 32 and 36 satellites at a time.

That will allow OneWeb to have an initial constellation of 648 satellites in orbit, 600 of which are necessary to provide global coverage. OneWeb has a contract for 21 Soyuz missions with Arianespace, and the companies announced after Wednesday’s launch that OneWeb satellites will also ride on the inaugural flight of the new European Ariane 6 rocket in 2020.

Virgin Orbit and Blue Origin also have agreements to launch OneWeb satellites. Wyler hopes the OneWeb mega-constellation will eventually contain thousands of spacecraft, but that dream will have to wait for a second generation of satellites.

For now, OneWeb is focused on execution.

“This is a huge moment for OneWeb, where we definitively see our satellites, the manufacturing process, the design, the ground systems, all come together,” said Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder and chairman, in an interview with Spaceflight Now on the eve of the launch. “The supply chain that has been put together, to be able to produce these satellites in volume, is now culminating in this launch. Assuming that the satellites operate as predicted, we can go right into production.”

With major offices in the United Kingdom and the United States, OneWeb is at the vanguard of several companies developing mega-constellations of hundreds or thousands or small satellites for broadband Internet access.

SpaceX, Telesat and LeoSat are among the other companies working on similar projects, SpaceX launched its first two Starlink demo satellites last year, and Telesat also launched its first low Earth orbit broadband satellite for testing in January 2018.

A launch readiness review at the Guiana Space Center on Tuesday cleared the mission to proceed with the flight. Officials pushed back the flight one day to allow time for additional data analysis after a Soyuz launch last week from Kazakhstan encountered an underperformance condition on its upper stage, a shortfall Russian media attributed to the a misstep in filling the launcher with insufficient oxidizer.

Russian teams in French Guiana pressed ahead with rollout of the Soyuz booster Saturday from its hangar — known by the Russian acronym MIK — to the launch pad. The OneWeb satellites and their Fregat upper stage, already encapsulated inside the Soyuz payload shroud, arrived at the pad Saturday night for mating to the rocket.



Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder and chairman, poses with the payload fairing on a Soyuz launcher containing his company’s first six broadband satellites. Credit: Greg Wyler

Wednesday’s launch was also a test for a specially-designed dispenser built for the OneWeb missions by Ruag Space in Sweden. The satellite carrier can accommodate more than 30 OneWeb spacecraft on a single launch, with the ability to release four payloads at a time in a staggered sequence.

The first pair of OneWeb satellites were timed to deploy from the Soyuz dispenser around 63 minutes after Wednesday’s liftoff at 2240 GMT (5:40 p.m. EST). The other four OneWeb spacecraft were expected to release from the carrier module at 2259 GMT (5:59 p.m. EST).

It took a few extra minutes for ground controllers to confirm a good separation of the final four OneWeb satellites Wednesday, as officials waited for the rocket to pass back in range of a tracking station.

After flying away from the Fregat upper stage, each OneWeb satellite was expected to radio its status to operators on the ground, unfurl their solar panels, then stabilize themselves to charge their batteries.

The Fregat upper stage, with the Ruag-built dispenser still attached, was scheduled to continue trials in orbit for several hours, mimicking the maneuvers the rocket will conduct on later OneWeb launches with a full load of satellites. The Fregat engine was expected to reignited late Wednesday for a deorbit burn to steer the spent rocket back into Earth’s atmosphere for a destructive re-entry.



A specially-designed dispenser built for OneWeb by Ruag Space in Sweden will be able to carry up more than 30 spacecraft on a single Soyuz launch. Credit: Greg Wyler/OneWeb

Wyler has corralled blue-chip companies to invest in his dream to beam affordable broadband Internet signals around the world, a mission he sees as a prerequisite to providing billions of unconnected, underserved people with the tools necessary to succeed in a modern marketplace of goods, services and information.

“This is the world’s largest civilian space system, and it’s all put together for the benefit of mankind,” Wyler said Tuesday. “That’s something so exciting, where so many people from so many countries, and investment from every continent of the world, comes together for one mission and one purpose. Ultimately, as we begin connecting the emerging markets to the developed markets, as we begin bringing opportunity and education to people, we’re going to see something wonderful about mankind coming together.”

OneWeb’s investors include Airbus, Coca-Cola, Virgin Group, Qualcomm SoftBank, and Intelsat. Under Wyler’s leadership, OneWeb has raised more than $2 billion to pay for the first series of satellites, their launches, and a new factory at Exploration Park, located just outside the gates of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

New Delhi-based Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems — a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp. — and Totalplay, a company owned by Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas Pliego, are also behind OneWeb.

OneWeb says it needs at least 600 satellites for global broadband service, but the company plans up to 900 satellites in the first generation network. Wyler said a successful launch of the first six satellites will help the company secure the additional financing needed to pay for the entire project.

“We’ve had a tremendously positive response from investors, as they’ve seen OneWeb come into reality,” Wyler said. “When you scratch the surface and you start to dive deep through our systems, you realize we’ve built the supply chain, we have the spectrum in place, we’ve got the launch licenses, the approvals, we’re building an incredibly safe constellation so we’ll ensure there’s no space debris.

“All of those pieces are in place, and they’ve been in place. We’ve been putting them in place over the last six years, which has given investors quite a bit of confidence in the reality and the background of our system to accomplish this goal. So I am full of optimism.”



One of the six OneWeb satellites set for launch Feb. 27. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

Wyler is a serial entrepreneur whose vision led to the creation of O3b Networks, which provides broadband services to a more narrow swath of the world. He also has a passion for using communications to improve the lives of the world’s poor, and spent three years developing Internet infrastructure to connect schools in rural Africa.

OneWeb is his latest, and most ambitious, project. Wyler’s company plans to deploy hundreds of satellites to blanket the world in broadband, enabling anyone at any location on Earth reliable access to the Internet.

“I don’t think we really understand what we did today,” said Adrian Steckel, OneWeb’s CEO. “I think that the amount of useful space to be monetized, to change the use cases, it’s tremendous, and we don’t really know everything that we can do.

“I’m very thankful to be able to work at this company. It’s very, very few times to get the opportunity to work in a company with this much scale, with this much impact, and really the notion of doing some good is not some PR, it’s deep in the foundations of the DNA of the company. We’re very much looking forward to doing our part to connect as many schools as we can.”

Assuming good performance from the first six satellites, OneWeb will soon transition its production from Airbus’s factory in Toulouse, France, to the new factory in Florida with a footprint covering more than 100,000 square feet (9,300 square meters).



OneWeb’s factory at Exploration Park, near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Officials originally planned to launch 10 pilot satellites on the first Soyuz launch, but OneWeb recently decided to fly six, and keep the other four on the ground as spares.

If something goes wrong with the satellites launched Wednesday, OneWeb will have the other four satellites ready to fly, ensuring the company meets the Nov. 29 regulatory deadline to use its allotted radio spectrum.

“We must launch and operate our satellites in order to bring our spectrum into use, in order to maintain our global priority rights to the spectrum for the system we’ve been designing since 2012. So if there is an issue, we have the other four in standby,” he said.

The first full-scale launch with OneWeb satellites is planned for August or September, again on a Soyuz, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Wyler said.

“The Soyuz will be in August or September in a nominal scenario, which I can hope for but not expect,” Wyler said. “But a nominal scenario will be in August or September, and we’ll be launching every 21 days.”

At that launch rate, more than 600 OneWeb satellites, which the company says will cost less than $1 million a piece, could be in orbit by the end of 2020, Wyler said. That’s a best-case scenario, assuming the satellites and rockets can be built and launched efficiently.

Nicolas Chamussy, head of space systems at Airbus, said OneWeb’s assembly line manufacturing technique is “setting new standards for the space industry.”

“Everything is ready for the mass production of several satellites per day,” Chamussy said. “It’s a short sentence,  but it means a lot to us. It’s been a real challenge to get here, but here we are.”

The first satellites for OneWeb will test “basically everything because we had to design pretty much everything,” Wyler said. “There were no volume-manufactured, space-qualified components when we started this, so we’re moving from zero to 1,000 in one step. So qualifying all of the space components along the way, getting it so you can have the repeatability necessary for space qualification, has been a tremendous challenge.”


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/02/27/first-six-oneweb-satellites-launched-from-french-guiana/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #13 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:07 »
OneWeb announced as customer for inaugural Ariane 6 launch
March 5, 2019 Stephen Clark [Spaceflight Now]


Artist’s illustration of an Ariane 6 rocket launching a constellation of small satellites. Credit: ArianeGroup

Arianespace has announced OneWeb, the broadband Internet provider seeking to deploy more than 600 satellites into low Earth orbit, as the launch customer for the inaugural flight of the new Ariane 6 rocket in 2020.

Officials announced the agreement hours after the successful deployment of OneWeb’s first six broadband satellites Feb. 27 aboard a Soyuz rocket launched from French Guiana, a mission managed by Arianespace, the French launch services provider.

“This agreement consists of OneWeb’s use of the inaugural Ariane 6 flight,” said Stephane Israel, CEO of Arianespace.

The first Ariane 6 launch will fly in the Ariane 62 configuration, with two solid rocket boosters augmenting thrust from the rocket’s core stage Vulcain 2.1 main engine.

OneWeb secured options for three Ariane 6 missions when it signed the original Soyuz launch contract with Arianespace in 2015, a deal which officials said then was the most lucrative commercial launch contract in history. OneWeb has booked 21 Soyuz missions, including the launch Feb. 27. The following 20 Soyuz flights are expected to loft up to 36 satellites at a time from launch pads in at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, and the Guiana Space Center in South America.

OneWeb’s satellites are in polar orbit around 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) above Earth, but the Soyuz launchers release the spacecraft — each about the size of a mini-fridge — at a lower altitude. The satellites use plasma thrusters to maneuver into the OneWeb constellation.

With OneWeb’s agreement to launch its satellites on the first Ariane 6 flight, the company has two more options for future Ariane 6 missions, Israel said. Terms of the new agreement between OneWeb and Arianespace were expected to be formalized in March, Israel said in his remarks after the Feb. 27 launch.



One of the six OneWeb satellites launched Feb. 27. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – S. Martin

OneWeb and Arianespace have not said how many satellites will launch aboard the first Ariane 6 mission. The Ariane 62 variant can deliver more than 30 percent more mass than the Soyuz to the type of orbit used by OneWeb’s satellites.

ArianeGroup, the leading shareholder in Arianespace and builder of the Ariane rocket family, aims to have the Ariane 6 rocket ready for its first launch at the Guiana Space Center in July 2020. The Ariane 6 will come in two configurations — an Ariane 62 with two boosters and a heavier Ariane 64 with four solid-fueled motors — to replace the Ariane 5 rocket, which has accomplished more than 100 flights since debuting in 1996.

ArianeGroup says the Ariane 6 will be less expensive than the Ariane 5, and will offer expanded capabilities, such as a heavier lift capacity and an upper stage engine designed for multiple ignitions, allowing the new rocket to place satellites into different orbits on a single flight.

Developed in a cost-sharing arrangement between European Space Agency member states and ArianeGroup, the Ariane 6 will use an upgraded hydrogen-fueled Vulcain 2.1 engine similar to the powerplant on the Ariane 5’s first stage. A new Vinci engine will replace the HM7B upper stage engine on the Ariane 5, and the Ariane 64 version will deliver up to 11.5 metric tons — more than 25,300 pounds — to geostationary transfer orbit.

Construction crews in French Guiana are building a new launch pad for the Ariane 6, which will be assembled in a horizontal hangar, then rolled out to the pad a few days before liftoff and erected vertical inside a mobile service tower, where satellites will be mated to the launcher.



An aerial view of the new Ariane 6 launch pad under construction at the Guiana Space Center. The facility is located a few miles northwest of the Ariane 5’s launch zone, and a few miles southeast of the Soyuz pad at the spaceport. Credit: CNES-ESA/Sentinel

OneWeb plans to deploy 648 satellites over the next two years to begin initial global broadband services, beaming high-speed Internet signals to far-flung locales, rural users, ships, airplanes and others outside the reach of terrestrial broadband coverage. OneWeb’s first 10 satellites were built at a spacecraft manufacturing plant in Toulouse, France, and production will soon move to a new factory operated by OneWeb Satellites — a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defense and Space — at Exploration Park in Florida.

The new factory will churn out up to 15 satellites per week for less than $1 million per spacecraft, according to OneWeb.


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/03/05/oneweb-announced-as-customer-for-inaugural-ariane-6-launch/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #14 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:08 »
OneWeb raises $1.25 billion from returning investors
by Caleb Henry — March 18, 2019 [SpaceNews]


Artist's rendition of a OneWeb satellite in low Earth orbit. Credit: OneWeb Satellites

The new round, announced March 18, brings OneWeb's total capital raised to 3.4 billion. Credit: OneWeb Satellites
WASHINGTON — Less than a month after the launch of its first six satellites, OneWeb closed a new $1.25 billion financing round to further its internet constellation.

Japanese tech giant SoftBank — OneWeb’s largest investor — led the round, as did returning investors Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies, and the government of Rwanda.

The new financing bring OneWeb’s total funding to $3.4 billion, following a $500 million round in 2015, a $1.2 billion round in 2016 and undisclosed fundraising of around $450 million last year.

In a statement accompanying the March 18 announcement, OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said the new money “makes OneWeb’s service inevitable” as the heavily capitalized startup prepares for the large-scale production and launch of a first-generation constellation of 648 satellites.

Steckel said in a February interview that OneWeb had moved away from earlier plans to finance the remainder of its system using debt. That approach, he said, would have required OneWeb to sign up early customers at discounted pricing, which OneWeb feared would permanently constrain what it could charge for service.

OneWeb declined to say how much each investor contributed to the new round.

OneWeb plans to begin offering regional service in 2020 with 300 satellites, and full service in 2021 with 600 satellites. The full first-generation constellation consists of 600 operational satellites and 48 spares.

Steckel, who was an executive board member at OneWeb-investor Grupo Salinas, became OneWeb’s CEO in September, and was tasked with helping to raise additional financing. He said during the interview that Grupo Salinas invested $25 million in OneWeb’s 2015 round and $76 million in OneWeb’s 2016 round.

OneWeb no longer shares cost projections for the system, which originally were between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion, but have been externally estimated at as high as $7.5 billion.

Marcelo Claure, the chief operating officer of SoftBank Group and the executive chairman of cellular network operator Sprint Corporation, said OneWeb has “extended its first-mover advantage and is on track to become the world’s largest and first truly global communications network.”

“OneWeb’s potential is undeniable as the growth in data from 5G, [Internet of Things], autonomous driving and other new technologies drives demand for capacity above and beyond the limits of the existing infrastructure,” he said.

OneWeb said it will start large-scale satellite production this spring at its new factory in Exploration Park, Florida, run by its Airbus joint venture OneWeb Satellites. In the fourth quarter of this year, OneWeb will begin “monthly launches of more than 30 satellites at a time” to deploy the constellation, it said.

“We are committed to bridging the digital divide, and this funding helps ensure our globally shared dream will soon become a reality,” Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s founder and chairman, said in a statement.

Arianespace is OneWeb’s principal launch provider, having launched the first six satellites on a Soyuz rocket Feb. 27, and having 20 more Soyuz launches under contract. The majority of those launches are expected to take place from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


Source: https://spacenews.com/oneweb-raises-1-25-billion-from-returning-investors/