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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #15 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:08 »
How OneWeb plans to make sure its first satellites aren’t its last
by Caleb Henry — March 18, 2019 [SpaceNews]

This article, which originally appeared in the March 11, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine, was updated March 18.

The first of OneWeb’s 21 Soyuz launches took place Feb. 27, carrying the first six OneWeb satellites into low Earth orbit. Subsequent missions are expected to carry 30 or more satellites at a time to build out a minimum constellation of 648 satellites. Credit: Arianespace

OneWeb’s dream of blanketing the globe in affordable, abundant broadband took an important step toward reality Feb. 27 when a Russian rocket lifted off from South America to deliver six French-built satellites into low Earth orbit.

OneWeb was facing a November deadline to put up its first satellites or risk losing spectrum the International Telecommunication Union alloted several years ago for the ambitious broadband megaconstellation.

If all continues to go as planned, OneWeb’s first six spacecraft will finish on-orbit testing this spring, clearing the path for an initial system of 648 satellites — 600 operational and 48 spares — and setting the stage for a larger system that could eventually number 900 or more satellites.

Orbiting the initial 648-satellite constellation will entail the largest launch campaign in history. In late summer of early fall, OneWeb expects to start launching 30 or so satellites at a time on Soyuz rockets lifting off every three to four weeks. In addition these 20 Soyuz missions booked through European launch service provider Arianespace, OneWeb is also counting on one or more Ariane 6 launches plus a to-be-determined number of Virgin Orbit LauncherOne missions to complete its constellation by 2021.

OneWeb and its satellite manufacturing partner Airbus Defence and Space have crammed 10 gigabits per second of capacity into spacecraft the size of dishwashers. Tom Enders, Airbus Group’s outgoing CEO, said Feb. 14 that OneWeb satellites cost $1 million each to produce, and that the companies will be able to complete 350 to 400 satellites annually from their joint venture OneWeb Satellite’s $85 million Florida factory opening in April. The first batches of Florida-built satellites should be delivered to OneWeb toward the end of the third quarter, Airbus spokesman Guilhem Boltz said.

OneWeb’s satellites are a technological marvel. Traditional geostationary communications satellites are as big as trucks, take years to build, typically cost $100 million or more and still might generate less throughput than a few OneWeb satellites.

But the satellite industry has seen other technological marvels reach orbit while the business plans behind them fall back to the ground.

The most notorious failure was Teledesic. The Bill Gates-backed venture raised $1 billion in the 1990s to build an 840-satellite “internet in the sky” but flamed out a few years after launching a single demo satellite.

While Iridium and Globalstar had succeeded by 2000 in deploying relatively modest constellations that enabled the advent of handheld satellite phones, both ventures went bankrupt in the process. However, Iridium and Globalstar ultimately emerged from bankruptcy and went on to launch second-generation constellations.

Each OneWeb spacecraft weighs about 150 kilograms — much more than cubesats but considerably less than the average communications satellite, which often weighs several tons. Credit: ARIANESPACE/CNES/ESA

OneWeb’s current risks are seen as primarily financial, not technical, according to Eric Anderson, a former Moog chief technologist and CSA Engineering executive involved in Teledesic and Iridium. He’s now a space consultant and investor.

“If their revenues are slow in growing, which I expect they will be, then they can’t plow anything significant back into capital expenditures like building new satellites and ground station infrastructure,” Anderson said.

OneWeb said on the eve of its inaugural launch that it had raised and spent more than $2 billion to date, a total that includes $1.7 billion spread over two high-profile equity rounds since 2015 and an undisclosed amount the company says it raised last year. The first $500 million came in 2015 from industry partners Airbus, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat, Qualcomm and Virgin Group, plus Coca-Cola, Mexican telecom company Grupo Salinas and Indian telecom company Bharti Airtel. In 2016, Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank supplied $1 billion of a $1.2 billion round that included previous investors.

In September, OneWeb replaced its CEO for the third time since 2015, replacing Airbus veteran Eric Béranger with OneWeb board member Adrian Steckel, who had been serving simultaneously as chief executive of Grupo Salinas Telecom and cryptocurrency startup Uphold.

Steckel, speaking to reporters in Kourou, French Guiana, before the Feb. 27 Soyuz launch of OneWeb’s first six satellites, predicted OneWeb will achieve profitability in 2022, or about six months after OneWeb expects the constellation to achieve full global service.

Steckel indicated OneWeb would soon raise more funds from previous investors. That proved true March 18 when the company announced a $1.25 billion round — its largest to date — led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies, and the government of Rwanda.

The new round brings OneWeb’s total capital to $3.4 billion — a sizable sum, but one that’s significance can’t be fully gauged without a total cost estimate for the OneWeb system.

While early estimates ranged from $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion, OneWeb no longer shares projections for deploying the constellation. When Steckel was hired last fall, Uphold issued a news release (soon retracted) that described OneWeb as a “$6B global broadband effort.” OneWeb founder Greg Wyler described it in 2017 as a $4 billion venture when he testified before a U.S. congressional hearing on satellite connectivity.

OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel speaking inside the Jupiter control room inside the Guiana Space Center ahead of OneWeb’s first launch aboard an Arianespace Soyuz Feb. 27. Credit: SpaceNews/Caleb Henry

Roger Rusch, president of the satellite consulting firm TelAstra, thinks both Wyler’s $4 billion estimate and Uphold’s dubious $6 billion figure are too low. He estimates OneWeb will ultimately need $7.5 billion to complete its system, and possibly more if it finances the user terminals.

“The realistic number is probably far beyond where they are right now,” said Rusch, who helped design several satellite systems with manufacturers. “It’s probably three times more than what they have.”

OneWeb’s individual spacecraft, while dramatically cheaper than traditional satellites, are still at least twice as expensive as the sub-$500,000 price point OneWeb envisioned when the program began. Rusch cautioned that less obvious costs, like gateway ground stations, real estate and regulatory licensing can further inflate costs beyond early estimates.

Other satellite operators have criticized OneWeb’s approach as unsound — one that will profit launch providers, satellite manufacturers and their suppliers while leaving investors high and dry.

OneWeb leadership insists that’s not the case.

From project to business

“We know that we will sell out [of capacity],” Steckel said. “When you give data at good speed with coverage that people haven’t had before and a device that works for them, you sell out.”

OneWeb still has a long way to go to sell out capacity of the envisioned initial system of 648 satellites.

The day of the launch, OneWeb announced its first two customers: UK-based satellite teleport and network operator Talia and Italian telecommunications company Intermatica.

OneWeb declined to provide contract values, but Steckel said the Talia deal “almost makes our year just with that one contract.”

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. Credit: ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE

It’s not clear how soon either announced contract will generate significant revenue for OneWeb. In a news release, OneWeb said its service “will come on stream for Talia starting in 2021, with virtually all of Talia’s markets activated by 2023.” Talia spokesman Elliot Banks declined to comment on the contract’s financial terms.

OneWeb’s announcement of the Talia and Intermatic contracts also revealed a significant change in its relationship with SoftBank, its largest investor.

SoftBank originally claimed full ownership of OneWeb’s capacity, but Wyler said Feb. 27 the two companies have backed away from that approach.

“That was something we had worked on, with them having all of the capacity for all the system and they were going to resell it, but we’ve changed that model together,” he said.

Wyler didn’t give an exact date for the change, saying it occurred “gradually over a number of months.”

With SoftBank no longer a guaranteed buyer for the constellation’s full capacity, OneWeb’s success as a business rests more squarely on its own shoulders.

Debt financing shelved

OneWeb’s March 2019 capital raise also marked a departure from a previous plan to rely on debt financing for the remainder of its funding needs.

“It changed,” Steckel said in explaining OneWeb’s plan to go back to shareholders rather than arranging debt financing through export-credit agencies, which often condition their support on proof of customer commitments.

“What we haven’t wanted to do is become dependent on outside financing,” Steckel said. “It was going to force us to sign commercial deals ahead of time and give too many discounts to customers.”

Steckel said early-bird discounts risked setting an expectation for OneWeb capacity prices at a rate lower than what the company wants, turning a sale price into the de facto norm.

“Our issue isn’t ‘will we sell out?’ Our issue is making sure that we sign the right deals so that we don’t sell out too soon and at the wrong price,” he said.

An initial public offering of OneWeb stock is also on the table for meeting the company’s future capital needs. Steckel said OneWeb “absolutely” plans to go public — just not for a while.

“Our mission is to bring connectivity everywhere … but to get there we need to build a viable business,” Steckel said. “It’s a premium product, it costs a lot of money to put it up, and we need to be able to monetize it.”

Reaching profitability

OneWeb predicts its initial system will be ready to provide 500 megabits-per-second connections with just 30 milliseconds of lag time by the time it reaches global coverage in 2021.

For now, OneWeb’s first six satellites (operational spacecraft, not prototypes) can collectively provide 18 minutes of service at a time — far too little for most customers OneWeb intends to serve. But each successive launch will increase that time, with polar regions becoming the first to get 24-hour coverage.

OneWeb anticipates launching around 150 satellites this year using four or five Soyuz rockets and potentially Virgin Orbit’s still-unflown LauncherOne, which can carry one to two satellites at a time. By 2020, the company should reach 300 satellites — enough that Canada and other regions close to the north and south poles will have 24-hour coverage, Wyler said. As the constellation scales to 648, the canopy of 24-hour coverage will reach the equator, providing global coverage, he said. Steckel said full service should start in 2021 or early 2022.

Steckel said OneWeb will be profitable in 2022, going so far as to project achieving profitability after the first six months of full, global service.

Outside observers caution that OneWeb appears likely to burn through a lot more cash before the constellation starts generating significant revenue.

“They need to get to this level of meaningful service, whether it’s 300 satellites or whatever, so that the full build out of the network is considered viable by other financiers,” Anderson said. “It seems really close, their ability to do that right now, but if revenues are only trickling in, or the margins are substantially lower than the high margins that traditional satellite operators can get, then I think they are not going to be able to get the additional billions.”

Space shattering

OneWeb was founded with the lofty goal of bringing fast, affordable internet to every corner of the globe. “We envision a world where all people have access and hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others wherever they are,” is how OneWeb currently describes its mission. But bridging the world’s digital divide will require OneWeb to build a successful business around connecting customers with much deeper pockets than a remote village or typical school.

Sir Richard Branson, left, with OneWeb founder Greg Wyler at the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana for OneWeb’s Feb. 27 inaugural launch. Credit: SpaceNews/Caleb Henry

Mobile network operators using OneWeb’s satellites to backhaul communications traffic for cellular towers will account for a lot of the company’s early customers, Steckel said. He listed aviation, maritime and government customers as other anticipated early users — alongside schools. “There are many different methods or financial models to connect the schools in many different countries with different abilities to pay,” Wyler said.

Wyler said his primary job at OneWeb has been to make sure the company stays true to its more philanthropic objectives while balancing financial investments and reaching “rapid profitability” as a company.

“We have a good balance of investors today who are watching both sides,” he said.

Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s billionaire founder, is one such investor. At the launch, Branson described OneWeb as “space shattering” in the difference it can make.

“It is going to be enormous,” he said.

Wyler said the $2 billion-plus OneWeb has spent getting to the point where it is nearly ready to start launching satellites by the dozens was a “one-off” expense that went into securing launches, establishing manufacturing infrastructure and setting up a supply chain. Marginal costs to build and expand the system are low from this point, he said.

But questions about OneWeb’s ability to pull off its dream linger, nonetheless.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #16 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:09 »
What Airbus learned from building satellites with OneWeb
by Caleb Henry — March 19, 2019
This article originally appeared in the March 11, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

Nicolas Chamussy, Airbus Defence and Space’s executive vice president of space systems, said building the OneWeb satellites required a complete rethink of how to design a satellite with an emphasis on repeatability. Credit: OneWeb Satellites

Regardless of whether the Airbus-OneWeb joint venture gearing up to crank out dozens of satellites a month ultimately builds just 648 satellites or closer to the 900 originally envisioned, OneWeb’s constellation is the first such project large enough to truly incorporate aviation-style mass production procedures for spacecraft.

“People had thought about it … but never had an opportunity to do it because they never had big series of production,” said Nicolas Chamussy, Airbus Defence and Space’s executive vice president of space systems. “Yes, there were 10, 20, or 40 satellites, but not 900.”

Chamussy said Airbus, in forming the OneWeb Satellites joint venture getting ready to open an $85 million factory on Florida’s Space Coast, assembled a roster of aviation, automobile and munitions suppliers already well known to the larger Airbus Group.

“Airbus is delivering three aircraft a day, so it means that [our suppliers] are used to deliver[ing],” he said.

Chamussy said building the OneWeb satellites required a complete rethink of how to design a satellite with an emphasis on repeatability.

“It has to be repeatable and repeatable in a manner that does not open any opportunity for mistake,” he said.

One notable change between previous satellites and those Airbus is building with OneWeb is the use of a single onboard computer instead of three. Airbus designed the new single computer and outsourced it to a supplier that could build the finished product at scale, Chamussy said.

Despite the complexity of the OneWeb satellites, Chamussy said the most difficult part remained the same as for any other satellite: the software.

“As always the challenging part was not something that you develop, it’s the onboard software,” he said. “The onboard software is touching each and every equipment and function, and it’s the last piece of development.”

Because of that complexity, Chamussy said Airbus chose to keep the software as its direct responsibility.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #17 dnia: Marzec 29, 2019, 23:09 »
Ruag revises strategy to win constellation orders
by Debra Werner — March 19, 2019
This article originally appeared in the March 11, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

A close up of a Ruag automated potting machine used in satellite panel manufacturing. Credit: Ruag Space

Long before Ruag began producing structures for OneWeb communications satellites, the Swiss aerospace equipment supplier noted the market shift toward large constellations and began investing in automation.

For decades, satellite operators and government agencies usually ordered one or two satellites at a time. Such spacecraft generally are designed to last 15 years or more.

For the new constellations, companies plan to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit within the span of two or three years and then begin replacing them with updated technology five to seven years later.

Niklas Boman, Ruag Spacecraft Product Group sales and marketing director. Credit: Ruag Space

“It’s not only the sheer number of components that need to be made but also the window of manufacturing is much shorter,” said Niklas Boman, Ruag Spacecraft Product Group sales and marketing director. “That’s the major change that the industry is undergoing now,” Boman said during a recent interview at the Ruag Space USA office in Santa Clara, California.

For equipment suppliers, the surge in satellite orders can seem daunting because of the quantities. A typical communications satellite structure includes 10 to 15 honeycomb or aluminum panels. Each satellite also requires 2,500 to 3,000 inserts, the attachment points for sensors or instruments. For a 500-satellite constellation order, Ruag would need to produce as many as 1.5 million inserts.

Before working on constellations, Ruag employees placed inserts in each panel manually. Now, a robotic arm picks up an insert, applies adhesive, places it in a panel and then measures to confirm its precise location.

“You can’t do 1.5 million inserts manually,” Boman said. “You need robots.”

The robots work in the 2,200 square meter manufacturing facility Ruag established in 2017 in Titusville, Florida, to manufacture satellite structures for OneWeb Satellites, the Airbus-OneWeb joint venture. Ruag is not disclosing the cost of the Titusville factory, but Boman called it a “huge investment.”

Before constellations changed the market, Ruag optimized satellite parts for technical excellence. Now, the company balances three goals. A part must be technically sufficient to perform its function. It also must be inexpensive and easily mass produced. Without all three elements, “you have no business case,” Boman said.

Ruag also supports OneWeb launches in addition to producing thermal insulation for the satellites, mechanical ground support equipment and dispensers to send 32 satellites into orbit at a time.

It was important for Ruag’s facility to be geographically close to the Airbus-OneWeb assembly, integration and test facility. While shipping parts for a single satellite is not a problem, if a company is shipping components for hundreds or thousands of satellites “logistics become a major cost factor,” Boman said. “Being geographically close to the satellite assembly, integration and test facility or the launch base has a huge impact on the overall business case.”

Ruag’s Titusville factory also is designed to support other constellations. Because the space industry is known for customizing satellites and spacecraft components, Ruag’s production line is designed to adapt to various customers seeking parts for low Earth orbit constellations as well as satellites destined for medium Earth or geostationary orbit.

“We believe much of this lower-cost technology we are building for low Earth orbit satellites is also going to end up in the geostationary and medium Earth orbit satellites,” Boman said. “They will utilize everything we produce for low Earth orbit satellites to take down the cost.”


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Czerwiec 13, 2019, 21:57 »
Virgin Orbit takes OneWeb to court over canceled launch contract
by Brian Berger — June 6, 2019 [SN]

OneWeb agreed four years ago to pay Virgin Orbit $234 million, or $6 million a launch, to loft its satellites one or two at a time into low Earth orbit using the air-launched LauncherOne vehicle the Long Beach, California, company expects to debut this year. Credit: Virgin Orbit

WASHINGTON — Virgin Orbit is suing OneWeb for refusing to pay a termination fee for canceling all but the initial four of the 39 launches it ordered from Virgin Orbit in 2015 to fill gaps in its planned constellation of at least 648 broadband satellites.

According to a complaint Virgin Orbit filed June 4 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, OneWeb quietly canceled 35 of a planned 39 launches last June, triggering a $70 million termination fee spelled out in the contract. Virgin Orbit says OneWeb still owes $46.32 million. The lawsuit was first reported by

OneWeb, the complaint says, agreed four years ago to pay Virgin Orbit $234 million — or $6 million a launch — to loft its satellites one or two at a time into low Earth orbit using the air-launched LauncherOne vehicle the Long Beach, California, company expects to debut this year.

OneWeb, which counts Virgin founder Richard Branson among its investors, launched its first six satellites in February aboard an Arianespace Soyuz rocket and intends to continue using Soyuz to deploy the bulk of its constellation 35 satellites at a time.

Will Pomerantz, vice president of special projects at Virgin Orbit, said June 6 the company still expects to fly at least four missions for OneWeb.

“While we don’t have a comment on this matter specifically, we’d like to voice our on-going support for OneWeb’s mission of providing affordable, low-latency internet access across the globe via satellite,” Pomerantz said by email. “We are excited by the success of OneWeb’s initial test satellites, and we look forward to flying their spacecraft soon, and to helping support and sustain their constellation for many successful years to come.”

OneWeb spokesperson Katie Dowd declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.

Virgin’s complaint

According to Virgin Orbit’s 14-page complaint, Virgin and OneWeb entered into a launch services agreement May 20, 2015, that called for four “initial firm launches” to start in 2017 and 35 “remaining firm launches” to start in 2018. The contract included options for an additional 100 launches at an agreed upon $6 million per launch, meaning Virgin Orbit stood to earn between $234 million and $834 million under its agreement with OneWeb.

Virgin Orbit says OneWeb sought during the spring of 2017 to reduce the number of launches, pay less per launch, “and spread out the launch dates for several years beyond the original terms.” OneWeb, according to Virgin’s complaint, also balked at escalating termination fees built into the contract, saying its lenders objected to incurring the increased obligation. Virgin Orbit at first agreed to slow the rate of escalation and then agreed to freeze it at a flat $70 million through June 15, 2018, while negotiations over a revised contract continued.

On June 7, 2018, after months of negotiations, Virgin Orbit sent OneWeb a new written proposal. On June 14, 2018 — the day before the contract termination fees were set to resume their rise — OneWeb canceled the 35 “remaining firm launches” but left intact the agreement covering the four initial launches, according to the complaint.

Virgin Orbit told the court that OneWeb had paid $26.25 million toward the 35 launches since signing the contract in 2015 but had fallen $19 million behind on its payments by the time it canceled the launches last June and incurred $2.1 million in associated late-payment fees.

Last July, about six weeks after canceling the 35-launch order, OneWeb sent Virgin Orbit $22.36 million, or roughly $1.26 million more than it owed in past-due payments and late fees.

Virgin Orbit says that even after factoring in last July’s payment plus the $26.25 million OneWeb had previously paid toward the now-terminated launches, OneWeb still owes it $46.32 million.

OneWeb, per the complaint, maintains that it doesn’t owe Virgin Orbit any money for canceling 35 launches.

After failing to resolve the dispute through informal mediation, Virgin Orbit decided to sue for breach of contract, seeking the $46.32 million plus legal fees and past due interest.

Jeff Foust and Caleb Henry contributed to this story from Washington.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #18 dnia: Czerwiec 13, 2019, 21:57 »

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #19 dnia: Lipiec 31, 2019, 23:33 »
OneWeb Satellites inaugurates Florida factory
by Jeff Foust — July 22, 2019 [SN]

The OneWeb Satellites factory, located just outside the gates of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will be able to produce two OneWeb satellites a day when fully operational. Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — OneWeb Satellites, the joint venture of Airbus and OneWeb, formally opened its Florida factory that will soon be producing satellites for OneWeb’s constellation at the rate of two per day.

The July 22 ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 9,750-square-meter factory, located just outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center here, marked the formal opening of the facility, although its twin production lines are still being commissioned and have yet to start full-scale satellite production. The event attracted dignitaries that included Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who was governor when Florida landed the deal three years ago to bring the factory to the state.

Ultimately, the factory will be able to build two satellites a day for OneWeb, allowing the company to maintain a high launch cadence as it seeks to deploy its initial 648-satellite constellation over the next two years.

“We are going to pioneer serial satellite production,” said Tony Gingiss, chief executive of OneWeb Satellites, at the ceremony. “It is something that has not been done in the industry.”

The company designed the factory from the ground up to support mass production of satellites. The twin production lines are laid out to optimize assembly, and make use of robots known as automated guided vehicles to move components efficiently from one station to the next.

Company officials said on a tour of the factory that they are still testing various aspects of the assembly process, and didn’t give an estimate on when full-scale production will begin. However, the first set of 34 OneWeb satellites, scheduled to launch in December on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, will be built at the factory. Additional launches will follow on a monthly cadence from Baikonur and the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East, each carrying 34 to 36 satellites.

“This is physical, tangible evidence of progress” said Adrian Steckel, chief executive of OneWeb, of the new factory at the ceremony. He said with its planned launch rate OneWeb will be ready to provide broadband access globally in two years, with initial service starting in Alaska and Canada next year.

The OneWeb Satellites factory features two production lines designed top optimize the assembly of satellites. Credit: OneWeb Satellites

OneWeb’s first six satellites, built at an Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, launched in February on a Soyuz rocket from French Guiana. The company announced last week that those satellites are fully operational and, in tests, demonstrated the ability to provide broadband access at 400 megabits per second and a latency of about 30 milliseconds.

“We’re able now to show and demonstrate working satellites and the ability to connect places around the world,” said Greg Wyler, founder and chairman of OneWeb.

Wyler, in his comments at the ceremony, emphasized the ability of OneWeb to help achieve the goal of connecting every school in the world by 2022, with OneWeb providing connectivity to those schools that can’t be reached by other means. However, he also OneWeb was “getting ready to gear up on the sales side” for commercial customers of the system.

In an interview, Wyler said OneWeb would be targeting rural customers who have few options for broadband today. “We’re going to offer an incredibly valuable and competitive product,” he said. Another initial market will be “land mobility” services for buses, trucks and emergency vehicles.

Another key element of the business plan will be costs. Wyler said OneWeb was still targeting “$1 million and under” for the per-satellite production cost, after the company set an initial cost target of $500,000 per satellite in 2015.

The factory’s first customer will be OneWeb, but Gingiss said OneWeb Satellites is looking for additional users. One example is the contract Airbus won in January from DARPA for its Blackjack program, which seeks to examine how commercial smallsat constellations could be used for military applications.

“We also want to bring this to the larger commercial sector and to military LEO applications,” he added, although he didn’t identify any specific opportunities the company is pursuing.

The factory, which supports 250 jobs, is in Exploration Park, a business park just outside the Kennedy Space Center gates that is also home to a new factory built by Blue Origin for its New Glenn orbital launch vehicle. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in a tent across the street from the OneWeb Satellites factory on land that will host a groundbreaking later this year for a Firefly Aerospace launch vehicle factory.

Frank DiBello, chief executive of Space Florida, the state’s space-focused economic development agency, said that only eight acres remains available in Exploration Park, and that he was working to identify other sites in the state’s Space Coast region for other businesses as the area continues to rebound from the aftermath of the retirement of the space shuttle eight years ago.

“Seldom do communities get the opportunity — although they desire it — to transform the industrial base,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and chief executive of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. “It’s taking place here, and it’s a wonderful thing to see.”


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #20 dnia: Sierpień 10, 2019, 07:12 »
Op-ed | Two more rules for building a megaconstellation
by Luca Rossettini — August 4, 2019 [SN]

An artist's rendition of communications satellites in low Earth orbit. Credit: OneWeb

Miniaturization and standardization of commercial low-cost, high-performance components have enabled a class of smaller space vehicles whose cost of development, manufacturing, and launch is three orders of magnitude lower than what used to be just a few years ago. To compensate for the inevitable performance gap at the spacecraft level, we can now coordinate the operations of hundreds of units into megaconstellations whose overall performance — especially in terms of temporal resolution — is astonishing. This architecture is the way to go to establish global infrastructures that will revolutionize fields like telecommunications, remote sensing, Internet of Things, agriculture, logistics, and many more.

While the concept of constellation is not new, the challenges connected to operating hundreds of spacecraft at the same time are yet to be fully understood. An article published in the June 10, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine lists “Three rules for building a megaconstellation”:

Rule No. 1: build new tech fast

Rule No. 2: automate selectively

Rule No. 3: leave room for failure

This set of rules highlights a major shift in an industry where the timeframe between mission design and start of operations used to reach a decade, an industry where hardware specifications were written in stone in early design phases and never questioned afterward, and an industry where a failure of a minor sub-component could cause a billion-dollar loss. SpaceNews’ list outlines a design approach focused on the short-term sustainability of the constellation.

I believe we should add a couple rules to this list to ensure long-term business durability in space. I’m glad to notice that the operators of some of the most demanding constellations are already taking them into account.

Rule No. 4: as long as your tech is in orbit, it is your responsibility

The performance revolution of small satellites — cubesats in particular — have introduced the concept of “partial failure” in an industry where mission success used to be an “all-or-nothing” matter. The recent launch of the first batch of Starlink satellites demonstrates that nowadays it is possible to launch 60 spacecraft, lose a few of them, and still claim a victory because the performance data and lessons learned gathered from their failure far outweigh the cost connected to their loss. This is probably a valid example of Rule No. 3 “leave room for failure.”

However, at a time when a dozen companies are planning to populate Earth’s orbit with competing megaconstellations, a 5 percent mortality rate — still to be demonstrated — can rapidly produce several hundred defunct objects drifting along business viable orbits, raising the cost of operations of the remaining operational satellites, jeopardizing the business model, and increasing collision risk for everyone.

While the design of a constellation can tolerate a 5 percent mortality rate, it is essential that mission planners specify a way to get those failed satellites out of the way, whether with a backup decommissioning system, an active debris removal (ADR) mission, or what I believe would be the more effective solution from an economic and business point of view: a mixed strategy that combines orbit clearance via a small, independent, and reliable decommissioning system capable to move the defunct satellite out of the way, and a satellite design ready for ADR. Besides the moral imperative to leave the orbit clean, the cost of these solutions is likely to repay itself several times in terms of operational cost savings and increased spacecraft lifetime.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rule “Mitigation of Orbital Debris in the New Space Age” already investigates some forms of economic incentive to satellite operators that adopt a decommissioning system on their satellites.

Besides that, the satellites of some of the megaconstellations mentioned in the article have enough propellant to allow end-of-life disposal in one-tenth of the time currently required by the IADC’s 25-year guideline, are designed to be serviced and removed by ADR, and have room on board for independent and autonomous decommissioning systems to be used for orbit clearance.

Rule No. 5: your mission is over only after proper decommissioning

With Rule No. 2, “Automate selectively,” SpaceNews describes SpaceX’s and OneWeb’s plan to partially automate operations, with emphasis on automatic collision avoidance. While this is undoubtedly a smart move, I believe that responsible operators should also do their best to prevent a massive creation of further defunct satellites that could challenge even the best automatic system of this kind, jeopardizing, once again, the economy of the space business.

Disposal into a graveyard orbit has been an essential part of GEO missions for decades, justified by the finite nature of this precious orbit. In the era of megaconstellations, the polar orbit region is the new GEO, a strategic resource whose clearance is a common responsibility. Therefore, no megaconstellation should be built without giving proper thought to end-of-life disposal.

Final Thoughts

As NewSpace companies, we are pioneering a new way of using space for business. The earliest NewSpace entities have been changing the traditional paradigms on many fronts: design, manufacturing, performance, and business model. The most recent ones are enabling the economic sustainability of the space business, offering services like orbital transportation and servicing.

Most of the industrial and business sectors on Earth feature a similar value chain. While the concept of a self-sustaining “cradle-to-cradle” design is making more and more economic sense for businesses on Earth, in space we are not yet systematically applying the “cradle-to-graveyard” approach.

We are in a transitional phase where the space market is experiencing an unbounded exponential growth. While it may be too early to promote the “cradle-to-cradle” design approach — at least from an economic point of view — it is definitely the right approach that we, the NewSpace companies, should aim at. In the meantime, “cradle-to-graveyard” is already a convenient first step.

In the words of University of California professor Carlo M. Cipolla’s famous essay “The Five Universal Laws of Human Stupidity,” doing nothing is like “damaging others while generating losses for ourselves.”

Luca Rossettini is CEO of D-Orbit, a Como, Italy-based company whose products and services cover the entire lifecycle of a space mission, including mission analysis and design, engineering, manufacturing, integration, testing, launch, and end-of-life decommissioning.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #21 dnia: Sierpień 10, 2019, 07:12 »
OneWeb founder Wyler calls for responsible smallsat operations
by Jeff Foust — August 6, 2019 [SN]

OneWeb founder Greg Wyler delivers the opening keynote address Aug. 5 at the 33rd Annual Conference on Small Satellites in Logan, Utah. Credit: Keith Johnson for SpaceNews

“I’m really not a fan of just launching stuff in space to raise money, and launching stuff in space that’s not finished or not ready or vetted,” OneWeb founder Greg Wyler said, in an apparent reference to SpaceX.

LOGAN, Utah — The founder of broadband megaconstellation company OneWeb urged the smallsat industry to operate responsibly in orbit, warning that failed satellites and collisions could result in stifling government regulation.

In an Aug. 5 keynote address at the Conference on Small Satellites here, Greg Wyler contrasted OneWeb’s emphasis on building reliable satellites and avoiding the creation of orbital debris with unnamed companies that he fears may sacrifice reliability in a rush to get their satellites launched.

“I’m really not a fan of just launching stuff in space to raise money, and launching stuff in space that’s not finished or not ready or vetted,” he said. “You should not be throwing up hundreds and hundreds of kilograms of mass that just becomes a missile.”

Wyler didn’t identify by name any companies that are launching satellites in that way, but his comments appeared to be a veiled reference to SpaceX and its Starlink constellation. SpaceX launched its first 60 Starlink satellites in May, and later reported at least three had failed. The company also raised a $310 million funding round about a month after that launch.

“To not sit and think about longer-term ramifications of what you’re doing is just irresponsible,” he said. “We had a team on space debris from day one.”

Wyler argued that OneWeb is trying to be a responsible operator by focusing on the reliability of its satellites, avoiding failures that prevent from the company from deorbiting them. The first six OneWeb satellites, launched in February, are 100% functional, he said.. “We’re really, really happy with them.”

With a completion of a new factory in Florida, the company is preparing to launch its initial constellation of 650 satellites in batches of 34 to 36 each. Those launches will take place monthly, starting in December, on Soyuz rockets.

Wyler said he was worried, though, about the effects on OneWeb and the industry should there be another collision like the Iridium-Cosmos event a decade ago. “If we have a couple of satellites collide, you’re going to see regulations and you’re going to see it fast, and it’s going to make no sense at all,” he warned.

He added he wasn’t concerned about competing with what he estimated to be at least 150 other proposed satellite constellations as long as they adopted a similar approach to space operations. “We welcome lots of people to come and join and do this,” he said. “I just want them all to do it safely.”


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #22 dnia: Sierpień 10, 2019, 07:13 »
OneWeb disputes Virgin Orbit lawsuit, says LauncherOne is too expensive
by Caleb Henry — August 8, 2019 [SN]

OneWeb says Virgin Orbit's dispute overlooks contract modifications made two years ago. Credit: Virgin Orbit

WASHINGTON — Megaconstellation startup OneWeb asked a court to dismiss a June lawsuit by Virgin Orbit, claiming that it doesn’t accurately portray a 2015 launch contract.

Virgin Orbit, whose LauncherOne small launch vehicle is nearing a maiden flight, sued OneWeb for cancelling in June 2018 all but four of 39 launches it had purchased.

Virgin Orbit asserted that OneWeb owed $46.32 million of a $70 million termination fee.

OneWeb, in an Aug. 5 filing to the District Court of the Southern District of New York, said Virgin Orbit overlooked a 2017 contract amendment allowing earlier launch payments to apply to the fee.

OneWeb said it already paid Virgin Orbit more than $66 million, of which only $18 million went towards launches that are still expected to happen.

“Virgin has received more than $48 million for future launch services that Virgin will no longer need to provide,” OneWeb said.

In its court filing, OneWeb said the $6 million price tag for a LauncherOne mission is two to three times current market prices.

OneWeb told the court that Virgin Orbit’s assessment it would make between $234 million and $832 million conducting launches for OneWeb overstates the value of the contract.

The original contract, OneWeb claims, allowed for termination without cause, and for prior payments to apply to the termination fee. Those contract termination rules, and the fact that Virgin Orbit has yet to conduct any LauncherOne missions, invalidate Virgin Orbit’s revenue expectations, according to OneWeb.

Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne is designed to launch 300 kilograms to a 500-kilometer orbit — enough to potentially carry two OneWeb satellites, depending on the weight of adaptors and supporting equipment.

European launch provider Arianespace launched the first six OneWeb satellites on a Soyuz rocket in February. OneWeb said Aug. 7 it succeeded in bringing its Ku- and Ka-band spectrum into use per International Telecommunication Union rules with those satellites, ensuring spectrum access for the larger constellation.

The majority of OneWeb’s initial 648-satellite constellation is projected to launch on Soyuz rockets 34 to 36 at a time. OneWeb has in the past described Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne as playing a support role while Arianespace Soyuz rockets complete the bulk of its constellation deployment.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #23 dnia: Wrzesień 03, 2019, 23:25 »
Can satellite megaconstellations be responsible users of space?
by Jeff Foust — September 3, 2019
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

“I’m really not a fan of just launching stuff in space to raise money and launching stuff in space that’s not finished or not ready and vetted,” OneWeb founder Greg Wyler said at the 2019 Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah, last month. Credit: Keith Johnson for SpaceNews

For many in the space industry, so-called “megaconstellations” of communications satellites are the next big thing. Such systems have the potential to provide services from tracking planes and ships to offering broadband internet access more effectively than existing satellite systems or terrestrial alternatives. They offer a feel-good story about connecting the world as well as the promise of lucrative revenue streams.

For others in the space industry, and some outside of it, megaconstellations are the next big thing to worry about. The prospect of thousands — potentially more than 10,000, depending on what systems actually get launched — of satellites in low Earth orbit raises concerns about collisions and the creation of orbital debris that could render such orbits all but useless for any satellite.

Then there are the unintended, and unanticipated, consequences of such systems. Astronomers discovered one of them shortly after SpaceX launched the first 60 of its Starlink satellites in May. In the days immediately after launch, the satellites were easily visible to the naked eye and showing up on long-exposure images as bright streaks. The thought of thousands of such satellites caused astronomers to shudder.

“I think it’s commendable and very impressive engineering,” said Megan Donahue, president of the American Astronomical Society, in a June statement about the Starlink satellites. “But I, like many astronomers, am very worried about the future of these new bright satellites.”


One megaconstellation company is trying to address the criticism regarding such systems by explaining how it intends to safely operate in space, setting a standard it hopes others in the industry will follow.

In June, OneWeb rolled out a new initiative called “Responsible Space.” That effort included a website with a clever URL ( that outlines its overall philosophy and specific approaches to safe operations in space. “We are dedicated to the idea that space is a shared natural resource which, if used responsibly, can help transform the way we live, work and interact,” the company states on that site.

“We always want to have a mindset towards sustainability and protecting the environment,” said Michael Lindsay, head of advanced mission design at OneWeb, discussing the Responsible Space initiative at the NewSpace 2019 conference in July.

Responsible Space represents “the practices and operations that we use, the designs, to make sure that we’re mindful of the potential impacts of utilizing space,” he explained. “The whole goal is to minimize the potential for harm to the environment.”

That approach has three distinct elements. One is what OneWeb describes as “responsible design and operational practices.” That includes the design of the satellites themselves to maximize reliability and maneuverability, as well as the operations of individual satellites and the overall constellation.

“We’re not launching something with a high chance of failure on orbit,” Lindsay said of the company’s satellites, which will undergo extensive testing before launch. “Once it fails in orbit, it becomes everybody else’s problem, and we don’t view that as acceptable.”

That approach also covers the design of the constellation. OneWeb chose an altitude of 1,200 kilometers for its satellites in part because there is a “nice minimum” in the population of existing satellites and debris at that latitude, he said, compared to more congested conditions at altitudes of 800 to 900 kilometers. (Another advantage is that the company needs fewer satellites at that higher altitude to provide global coverage.)

That concept extends to the disposal of satellites at the end of their lifetimes. “We have a high degree of reliability on the system that allows us to deorbit,” he said, such that it could still operate even if the rest of the satellite malfunctions. The goal is to remove a satellite from orbit within five years of the end of its mission, a fraction of the 25-year time frame in existing orbital debris mitigation guidelines.

A second element of Responsible Space is developing what OneWeb calls an “ecosystem” within the space industry that supports space sustainability. Lindsay argued that creating business opportunities for companies can be more compelling that simply forcing them to follow government regulations.

“If you develop an ecosystem that supports and promotes sustainable behaviors and even creates new business opportunities out of sustainability, then it becomes much more attractive,” he said.

For example, OneWeb plans to include a grapple fixture on its satellites in the event one of its satellites is unable to deorbit itself. “A third-party satellite could mate with our satellite, grab it and tug it out of orbit, even when our satellite is non-responsive,” he said.

Companies like Astroscale are developing technologies for what’s known as active debris removal, and such an interface could make their jobs easier. Lindsay said OneWeb plans to make schematics of that interface publicly available to support such companies as they develop their debris-removal spacecraft.

The final element of Responsible Space deals with collaboration with other space operators, from sharing information on the orbits of each others’ satellites to broader policy issues. It’s an acknowledgment that, no matter what OneWeb does, space sustainability will require cooperation with other companies and governments.

“Ultimately, if one company or operator is doing something that they think is responsible,” Lindsay said, “it’s not effective unless all the others are operating with the same amount of responsibility and awareness. Everybody has to be on the same page.”


OneWeb has taken a variety of approaches to promote Responsible Space. Besides conference appearances and its website, the company sponsored an invitation-only workshop by the Secure World Foundation in June about “norms of behavior” in space. However, a three-page summary of the report, released by Secure World in August, didn’t reveal any breakthroughs on promoting such norms.

The biggest evangelist for the gospel of Responsible Space, though, is OneWeb’s founder, Greg Wyler, who rarely misses an opportunity to bring up his company’s commitment to space sustainability. That included discussing it at the July 22 grand opening of the new factory in Florida that will soon produce two OneWeb satellites a day.

“We can’t go connect every school in the world and bring broadband to all the rural communities if we do it in an unsafe way,” he said, emphasizing OneWeb’s commitment to high-reliability satellites. “If we mess it up, if satellites start failing and they start crashing, there’s virtually no way to clean up the mess.”

The concept got an endorsement at the same event from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “We particularly commend OneWeb for your Responsible Space initiative,” he said in remarks before Wyler’s speech. He called OneWeb’s plans to promptly deorbit satellites “an elegant solution to a key part of the debris problem.”

Wyler’s strongest comments about Responsible Space came in a keynote he gave Aug. 5 at the annual Conference on Small Satellites at Utah State University. Speaking to a standing-room-only audience, he discussed space sustainability along with the history of OneWeb and its satellite deployment plans.

He used the speech, and the question-and-answer session that followed, to not only talk about OneWeb was doing but also to subtly — or perhaps not so subtly — criticize other companies that he felt weren’t taking the issue seriously.

“I’m really not a fan of just launching stuff in space to raise money and launching stuff in space that’s not finished or not ready and vetted,” he said. “You should not be throwing up hundreds and hundreds of kilograms of mass that just becomes a missile.”

He never named the company or organization he was referring to, but to many in the audience he appeared to be criticizing SpaceX. A company spokesperson reported a month after the first Starlink launch that three of the 60 satellites were had stopped communicating with the ground and “are no longer in service.” Around the time of that update, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan announced it was investing in SpaceX, part of a round estimated to raise $310 million.

During that Q&A session, one person brought up astronomers’ concerns about the visibility of satellite megaconstellations based on the experience with SpaceX. “We’ve thought about it,” Wyler responded, describing steps the company took to minimize the brightness of its satellites in the night sky. “To not sit and think about longer-term ramifications of what you’re doing is just irresponsible.”

SpaceX argues that it, too, seeks to be responsible in space. “Due to their design and low orbital position, all five deorbiting satellites will disintegrate once they enter Earth’s atmosphere in support of SpaceX’s commitment to a clean space environment,” a SpaceX spokesperson said in June about the three satellites that failed and two others the company was intentionally deorbiting to test their propulsion systems.

SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk separately said the company was looking at ways to lower the albedo, or reflectivity, of future Starlink satellites to reduce their brightness, which decreased as most of the satellites moved into their higher operational orbits.

A SpaceX official, speaking on background, acknowledged that the initial batch of Starlink satellites was something of an experiment, pushing their capabilities to the limit. “Our learnings here, however, are key to developing an affordable and reliable broadband service.” Musk, before the launch, told reporters that it was possible some satellites could fail and even a “small possibility that all of the satellites will not work.”

Watching these developments and debates by OneWeb and SpaceX is someone with a lot of experience with satellite constellations: Matt Desch, chief executive of Iridium. Speaking at the Secure World Foundation’s Summit for Space Sustainability in late June, he said he, too, was worried about the reliability of satellites being launched by megaconstellations, fearing that some will malfunction and become “rocks” in orbit.

“What if you launch 1,000 satellites, 5,000 satellites, 12,000 satellites?” he asked. “Say, 10% create rocks. We are creating an environment that may make LEO an environment that isn’t sustainable.”

Desch, though, endorsed a modification to SpaceX’s FCC license before that first launch, allowing the company to operate its satellites at an altitude of 550 kilometers versus 1,150 kilometers as originally planned. SpaceX says that the lower altitude will reduce latency, but Desch noted that the lower altitude means the satellites will naturally deorbit within a few years even if they malfunction.

“I’m just thrilled they made that decision,” he said. “It’s a very responsible decision.”


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #24 dnia: Wrzesień 22, 2019, 08:00 »
Intelsat sues OneWeb, SoftBank citing breach of contract, fraud, conspiracy to steal information [SN]
by Debra Werner — September 20, 2019

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

SAN FRANCISCO – Intelsat filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court claiming OneWeb and its largest investor SoftBank breached contracts, committed fraud and conspired to steal confidential and proprietary information.

The nine-count lawsuit filed Sept. 10 stems from Intelsat’s $25 million investment in OneWeb, subsequent cooperation agreements and the unsuccessful merger of the two parties. Intelsat is seeking unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and a halt to OneWeb and SoftBank actions that violate their agreements with Intelsat.

Intelsat’s 2015 investment in OneWeb was contingent upon a commercial agreement giving Intelsat customers access to OneWeb communications services, according to the complaint. The companies signed an agreement in late 2015 that made Intelsat the “sole and exclusive worldwide and regional distributor” of OneWeb communications services to customers in four markets: aviation, maritime, oil and gas, and the U.S. government, the complaint added.

At the time, OneWeb planned to focus its business on offering broadband access to consumers around the world and providing communications services in underserved geographic areas.

In 2016, SoftBank invested nearly $1 billion in OneWeb, acquiring a 40 percent stake in the company, according to the complaint. Then, “in willful breach” of OneWeb’s agreement with Intelsat, OneWeb agreed to let SoftBank purchase 100 percent of its future satellite capacity and appointed SoftBank as its exclusive global distributor of communications services, the complaint said. The agreements between OneWeb and SoftBank were “never discussed or cleared with Intelsat,” the complaint added.

When Intelsat objected in 2016, OneWeb, SoftBank and Intelsat agreed to amend the original cooperation agreement between OneWeb and Intelsat. Under the new agreement, Intelsat would maintain “exclusive distribution rights” but would procure OneWeb communications services through SoftBank, according to the complaint.

Based on this agreement, Intelsat provided “financial, technical and other support to OneWeb,” the complaint said. “Intelsat also disclosed, at OneWeb and SoftBank’s behest, proprietary, confidential technical and customer information” related to the four markets Intelsat planned to target, the complaint added.

In 2017, while the parties were discussing ways to offer customers access to both OneWeb’s and Intelsat’s communications services, they began to discuss a merger, according to the complaint. Under the proposed merger, SoftBank would “invest up to $1.5 billion in Intelsat,” which would combine with OneWeb to form a single satellite provider, the complaint said. That transaction, which was contingent upon changes in Intelsat’s debt, fell apart in June 2017 when Intelsat’s debt holders did not agree to the deal.

After the merger failed, OneWeb and SoftBank discussed the possibility of establishing a relationship that extended beyond the four markets listed in Intelsat’s original agreement with OneWeb, according to the complaint. For example, they contemplated joint marketing of combined communications services for the connected vehicle market, the complaint said.

Those discussions continued beyond March 31, 2018, a date listed in the amended agreement between OneWeb, SoftBank and Intelsat. That document said SoftBank agreed to sell OneWeb Services to Intelsat “pursuant to a master service agreement to be negotiated and agreed between Intelsat and SoftBank on or prior to March 31, 2018,” according to the complaint.

Although that date passed, “at no point during the parties’ negotiations” did anyone say the cooperation agreement between OneWeb, Intelsat and SoftBank “had been terminated, abandoned or was of no continuing effect or force,” according to the complaint.

However, Intelsat’s dialogue with SoftBank stopped suddenly in April 2018, the complaint said. At the time, SoftBank “was actively seeking to sell its investment in OneWeb,” the complaint added.

In February 2019, OneWeb informed Intelsat it “no longer believed the parties’ discussions about a broader commercial arrangement would be fruitful,” according to the complaint. Intelsat then received a “cease and desist letter” in July 2019 from OneWeb, demanding that Intelsat “refrain from representing to distributors that Intelsat possessed any exclusive distribution rights” to OneWeb capacity in specific markets, the complaint said.

Prior to sending that letter, OneWeb was already negotiating for the purchase and resale of its capacity with distributors and customers, according to the complaint.

On its website, OneWeb lists four markets it intends to serve: aviation, maritime, enterprise and government customers. By focusing on aviation, maritime and government customers, OneWeb “has deprived Intelsat of the exclusive distribution rights it is entitled to,” the complaint said.

Furthermore, Intelsat claims that OneWeb “has made improper competitive use of Intelsat’s confidential information” and that OneWeb and SoftBank “conspired to utilize Intelsat’s confidential and proprietary information” for purposes other than carrying out their agreement with Intelsat, according to the complaint.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #25 dnia: Luty 09, 2020, 19:14 »
OneWeb plans April launch break to tweak satellite design
by Caleb Henry — February 6, 2020 [SN]

OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel in February 2019 speaking at the Guiana Space Center ahead of OneWeb’s first launch, an Arianespace Soyuz mission that delivered six satellites to low Earth orbit Credit: SpaceNews/Caleb Henry

WASHINGTON — Deployment of OneWeb’s constellation of nearly 650 global broadband satellites is slated to begin in earnest Thursday when it launches its first 34 satellites built at the company’s Florida factory.

But instead of launching at least 30 more satellites each month until achieving global coverage sometime in 2021, OneWeb now says it intends to pause its launch campaign for a month after one more launch planned for March. Additional short pauses are envisioned after launches planned for May and June expand the constellation to around 140 satellites.

“In April we’re taking a breather because we’ve done a redesign on one of the elements, and we want to give ourselves some time to produce it,” OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said in an interview.

He said the April pause won’t delay achieving global coverage by the end of 2021 as previously planned.

Steckel did not name which element OneWeb resigned, but described the required hardware changes as “minor modifications.” He said the company already completed some changes, most of which involve software used to control the satellites, driven by what OneWeb learned from operating its first six-satellite batch that launched nearly a year ago.

Thursday’s launch, an Arianespace-provided Soyuz mission delayed from December, is scheduled to lift off at 4:42 p.m. EST Thursday from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The 34 satellites on board Thursday’s launch will join the six French-built satellites launched last February, and were expected to kick off a monthly launch cadence intended to put up at least 588 satellites before the end of 2021.

While that’s still OneWeb’s goal, Steckel said the company is not wedded to monthly launches to achieve it. After the launches now planned for March, May and June, OneWeb’s launch schedule gets hazy.

“We’re probably going to do these on a monthly cadence, [but] we may take some months off and then double up,” Steckel said. “We’re playing around with that.”

Whether OneWeb establishes a steady once-a-month launch cadence or opts for more of a surge-and-pause approach after the May and June campaigns, Steckel said the company will take an indefinite launch hiatus once it has 588 satellites in low Earth orbit — the minimum needed to provide global service. Reaching that milestone is expected to take 17 or 18 more Soyuz launches, plus one Ariane 6 mission, he said.

“We need 588 for service, and then we have spares,” he said. “The question is how quickly we want to get those spares up.”

OneWeb’s full initial constellation is 648 satellites, of which 60 are spares. Slowing deployment once the constellation reaches 588 satellites could help OneWeb conserve cash just as the initial global service goes live.

OneWeb has contracts with Arianespace of Evry, France, for 20 Soyuz launches plus the inaugural flight of the Ariane 6 rocket late this year.

OneWeb is building its constellation of hundreds, and potentially thousands, of satellites in Merritt Island, Florida, at a brand-new factory operated by OneWeb Satellites, its joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space. Steckel said the factory reached its target production rate of two satellites per day in January.

Steckel said OneWeb delayed Thursday’s launch from December because of delays getting the OneWeb Satellites factory up to full production levels. He said there was a larger than expected learning curve from building the first 10 satellites at an Airbus factory in France to producing two satellites per day at the dedicated factory OneWeb Satellites opened in Florida last year.

“We’ve gotten the kinks out and we’re ready to go,” he said. OneWeb Satellites will continue production “whether or not we’re launching immediately,” he said.

“We feel really good about these satellites, and we’re looking forward to having another set of satellites ready before the end of the month for March,” he said.

Steckel said the electric thrusters and solar power systems on OneWeb’s first satellites have exceeded expectations.

Steckel said the number of satellites launched per Soyuz mission is determined by the location of the launch site. Soyuz launches from French Guiana or Kazakhstan will carry 34 satellites, while launches from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far east will carry 36 satellites, he said.

Arianespace’s Ariane 6 flight, now targeted for sometime between October and December, will carry 30 OneWeb spacecraft.

Steckel said OneWeb still hasn’t decided if it will build 900 first-generation satellites, as planned in 2016, or if it will halt at 648 before starting a second generation.

The company is ultimately planning a constellation of 1,980 satellites, having recently asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to grant market access for that number of satellites.

Steckel said OneWeb’s first goal is to reach global coverage, after which it will add more satellites to layer on capacity.

OneWeb announced in January it is working with British and Israeli antenna company Satixfy on digital payload technology that would allow satellites to steer capacity as needed to respond to customer demand. Steckel said OneWeb is working with Satixfy and others on technology for a series of “phase 2” satellites focused on adding capacity.

“Obviously there have been advances in payloads, and we are going to take advantage of that,” he said.

Satixfy CEO Yoel Gat said by email that the company will have components on a single OneWeb satellite expected to launch in 2021.

Steckel said OneWeb is not worried that SpaceX surpassed it in satellites launched. SpaceX now has 242 satellites in orbit for Starlink, a broadband constellation that could number 12,000 or even 42,000 satellites.

Steckel said he believes OneWeb’s business plan differs significantly enough from SpaceX that both can coexist.

“They are focused on broadband to the home; we’re focused on connecting people all over the place and on coverage,” he said. “I think there is an opportunity for both companies to be successful.”


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #26 dnia: Luty 09, 2020, 19:15 »
OneWeb’s first large batch of satellites launch on Arianespace Soyuz rocket
by Caleb Henry — February 6, 2020 [SN]
Updated Feb. 7 at 12:05 a.m. Eastern after payload separation.

Arianespace launched the second of 21 Soyuz missions it has under contract for OneWeb. Credit: Arianespace webcast

WASHINGTON — A Soyuz rocket launched 34 small broadband satellites for OneWeb Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, marking the beginning of a multi-launch campaign for the company.

The Russian rocket, whose launch was arranged by European launch provider Arianespace, lifted off at 4:43 p.m. Eastern on a mission lasting three hours and 45 minutes.

The first two OneWeb’s spacecraft deployed about an hour and 10 minutes after liftoff. The rest deployed in groups of four about once every 20 minutes, with Soyuz’s Fregat upper-stage engine conducting brief firings in between each deployment. Arianespace confirmed all satellites separated in a news release issued around 9:41 p.m. Eastern.

The Soyuz upper stage used a dispenser supplied by Ruag Space to release the satellites at 450 kilometers. From there, each 150-kilogram satellite will use onboard electric propulsion to climb to their 1,200-kilometer operational orbit.

The launch expands OneWeb’s constellation of low Earth orbiting satellites to 40, following a Soyuz launch last February that carried six satellites.

Adrian Steckel, OneWeb’s chief executive, told SpaceNews the company has another batch of 34 satellites launching from Baikonur in March before the company plans to take a monthlong break to implement spacecraft software and hardware changes. After that pause, OneWeb plans to launch once in May and once in June before potentially shifting out of a monthly launch cadence, he said.

Steckel said OneWeb still plans to achieve global coverage by the end of 2021. The company is building its satellites in Florida through a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space called OneWeb Satellites.

Counting Thursday’s launch, OneWeb plans to conduct a total of 17 or 18 Soyuz launches and one Ariane 6 launch with Arianespace to orbit 588 satellites before the end of next year, Steckel said. After those launches, OneWeb will pause again before deciding a schedule for launching 60 spares, completing the 648-satellite first-generation constellation, he said.

Arianespace is launching the vast majority of OneWeb’s first-generation constellation using Soyuz rockets from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in South America and Russia’s Baikonur and Vostochny Cosmodromes. Thursday’s OneWeb launch is Arianespace’s first mission from Baikonur in seven years, and marks the 50 Soyuz launch the Evry, France-based company has provided.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #27 dnia: Luty 09, 2020, 19:17 »
Successful Soyuz launch deploys 34 satellites for OneWeb network
February 7, 2020 Stephen Clark [SFN]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated with confirmation of acquisition of signal from all 34 satellites.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with 34 OneWeb broadband satellites on-board. Credit: Roscosmos

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan — A Russian Soyuz launcher fired into orbit from the remote steppe of Kazakhstan Thursday with 34 satellites built on Florida’s Space Coast, commencing a sequence of launches to deploy a network of nearly 650 spacecraft for a global broadband network owned by OneWeb.

The launch Thursday was the first of up to 10 OneWeb missions this year, each carrying from 32 to 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit from spaceports in Kazakhstan, Russia and French Guiana. By next year, when OneWeb aims to have at least 648 satellites in orbit, the company plans to begin providing global Internet service.

Limited service could begin before the end of this year, according to OneWeb.

The 15-story Soyuz-2.1b rocket climbed away from the Site 31 launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 2142:41 GMT (4:42:41 p.m. EST) Thursday and shot through an overcast cloud layer in the predawn skies over Kazakhstan, where liftoff occurred at 2:42 a.m. local time Friday.

Kerosene-fueled engines generated more than 900,000 pounds of thrust to power the Soyuz launcher off the launch pad. Within two minutes, four liquid-fueled first stage boosters shut down and jettisoned, and the Soyuz core stage switched off and separated nearly five minutes after liftoff.

Moments after the third stage engine ignited, the Soyuz shed its clamshell-like aerodynamic payload shroud. The third stage deployed a Fregat upper stage on a preliminary suborbital trajectory more nine minutes into the mission, completing the role of the Soyuz rocket for the mission.

The main engine of the Fregat upper stage ignited two times to place the 34 OneWeb satellites into a targeted polar orbit roughly 280 miles (450 kilometers) above Earth, with an inclination of 87.4 degrees to the equator.

Then began a series of deployments to release the 34 OneWeb satellites from a composite dispenser, or connecting interface, made by RUAG Space in Sweden.

First, two of the 325-pound (147.5-kilogram) satellites separated from the top of the cluster. The remaining 32 spacecraft separated in groups of four at intervals of approximately 20 minutes, with maneuvers by the Fregat’s smaller attitude control thrusters in between to ensure the satellites did not collide.

The satellite separation events largely occurred when the Fregat was outside the range of ground tracking stations. Officials from OneWeb and Arianespace — which arranged Thursday’s launch under contract to OneWeb — updated the status of the deployment sequence as they received data from the Fregat upper stage.

The last group of OneWeb satellites flew off the Fregat’s dispenser around 3 hours, 45 minutes into the mission. About an hour later, officials received telemetry data confirming the deployment of all 34 satellites.

This image from an animation produced by Arianespace illustrates the process of deploying the OneWeb satellites from the Fregat upper stage’s dispenser. Credit: Arianespace

Later Friday, ground teams at OneWeb’s satellite operations center received signals from all 34 satellites after several passes over ground stations.

The spacecraft were manufactured on assembly lines at a new factory operated by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defense and Space, near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“This is a very significant launch for us, and I think this launch and really the next launch are critical because it will show the success that we’ve had with OneWeb Satellites, the joint venture between us and Airbus, and getting the assembly line approach actually working,” said Adrian Steckel, CEO of London-based OneWeb. “I think the 34 satellites that are on this one are a demonstration that after many months of work, we can get up to that rate.”

“The real proof will be when we have 34 satellites for Launch No. 3 ready by Feb. 17 or so and shipping out to Baikonur. We’re very happy about that,” Steckel said.

The OneWeb satellites, each designed for a minimum of five years of commercial operations, will extend their power-generating solar panels and activate their xenon plasma propulsion systems to begin post-launch checkouts. Each satellite will use its xenon thruster to reach an operational orbit at an altitude of 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) in about five months, where the OneWeb network will spread an initial block of 648 satellites among multiple orbital planes.

OneWeb scaled back the size of its first-generation satellite network in 2018 after finding that the first spacecraft built for the constellation performed better than expected.

But OneWeb has ambitions to grow its broadband fleet to 1,980 satellites to meet higher demand.

Founded by Greg Wyler, a satellite and telecom entrepreneur, OneWeb announced last year that it demonstrated live HD video streaming through the company’s first six satellites launched in February 2019. OneWeb and Iridium, which operates a low Earth orbit network with 66 cross-linked L-band communications and data relay satellites, announced an agreement in September to work toward a combined service offering.

OneWeb’s satellites will be spread among multiple orbital planes. Credit: OneWeb

OneWeb is in heated competition in the low-latency satellite broadband market with SpaceX, which has launched 240 Starlink Internet satellites on four dedicated Falcon 9 rocket flights since last May. More than 20 additional Falcon 9 launches — each with around 60 Starlink payloads — could take off before the end of 2020, aside from SpaceX’s launches for other customers.

SpaceX, which builds its satellites in Redmond, Washington, plans to initially launch up to 1,600 satellites on a series of Falcon 9 rockets to fly in 341-mile-high (550-kilometer) orbits. The company, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has approval from the Federal Communications Commission to eventually operate up to 12,000 Starlink broadband satellites.

Documents filed with the International Telecommunication Union last year suggested SpaceX could seek regulatory authority for up to 30,000 additional spacecraft, bringing the Starlink network to some 42,000 satellites.

“Our satellites are at 1,200 kilometers, there’s are at 550,” Steckel said in a pre-launch media briefing in Kazakhstan. “That’s just geometry. Our satellites have a bigger field-of-view. Their system doesn’t give them global coverage, even though they have a lot more satellites, because they’re lower and they do not have inter-satellite links (yet).

“And because ours are higher and we have big ground stations, we’re able to sort of reach over the horizon and guarantee that coverage of the oceans and have global coverage,” Steckel said. “We have (regulatory) filings for thousands of satellites… and they have for tens of thousands of satellites.”

Like OneWeb, SpaceX says it could start serving high-latitude regions the Starlink broadband coverage this year, followed by the inauguration of global service.

SpaceX can launch Starlink satellites on the company’s own Falcon 9 rockets, and the company is using the Starlink program to fill its launch manifest as other sectors of the satellite industry have experienced a downturn.

OneWeb has taken a more traditional satellite development approach with an international supply chain. Gingiss said about half of the parts on each spacecraft come from North America, and the other half come from Europe.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also investing in the planned Kuiper broadband network that could also number thousands of satellites.

While Starlink and Kuiper are primarily backed by billionaires, OneWeb’s investors include the Japanese company SoftBank, Airbus, Qualcomm and Grupo Salinas. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is also a OneWeb financial backer.

OneWeb said last March that it had raised $3.4 billion to date to pay for the construction of the network, which is scheduled to begin providing Internet service over the Arctic before the end of 2020, thanks to ground stations already operational in Alaska and Norway.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb. Credit: Arianespace

OneWeb Satellites is producing more than 600 additional satellites for OneWeb on two assembly lines at the company’s Florida factory.

“These are the first built at our high-capacity assembly lines in Florida,” said Tony Gingiss, CEO of OneWeb Satellites. “We’ve been ramping that factory up over the last six to nine months.”

“We’re already midway through the second batch to deliver at the middle of this month, and that is really demonstrating that we can hit roughly 34 satellites a month to deliver to keep the launch cadence that OneWeb wants,” Gingiss said.

Steckel said that there’s room in the global commercial market for both SpaceX and OneWeb because the companies are taking different approaches to their low-latency broadband networks.

“We’re going to be competitive,” Steckel said. “We have a different approach. We’re going to get landing rights (and market access) in places that Starlink won’t. We think there’s 40 percent of the land mass in the world where they won’t and we will. That has to do with our architecture. It also has to do with our approach to doing business. It also has to do with our flag. We’re a UK company. That gives us the ability to try to build a bridge … We have shareholders and support from institutions all around the world.

“We’re also attacking a different part of the marketplace,” he continued. “We’re not going to try to compete against the Comcasts or the Oranges of the world. Over time, what you’ll find is our technologies and their technologies are pretty much the same thing. But the fact that you’re using the same technology doesn’t mean you’re executing the same business model. It’s the difference between being a consumer play or an enterprise play.”

According to Steckel, OneWeb’s network will be more attractive to countries like China and Russia. He said OneWeb’s satellites will relay broadband signals through powerful ground stations, or gateways. The company intends to develop or use around 40 to 45 gateways distributed around the globe.

OneWeb and the government of Kazakhstan have announced plans to put a gateway in Kazakhstan to create a broadband data hub for Central Asia. Steckel said that partnership could be a model for OneWeb’s entry into other markets.

“I don’t believe that sitting back in our office, me and our team will be able to properly manage a global system, and know what does the client want in Madagascar, versus South Africa, versus Brazil, versus Wales, Scotland, or Switzerland,” Steckel said. “You need people locally to implement, and to design the products and sell the product. That goes with the notion of having partners with aligned economics and aligned interests.”

SpaceX’s Starlink network will eventually use laser data links between satellites, enabling the network to route signals around the world without going through ground stations.

“SpaceX has gone out of their way to emphasize that they were going to have inter-satellite links, and that they will have inter-satellite links,” Steckel said. “That is fundamental to the structure of their system, and that is not something that’s acceptable to governments who want to make sure that they have the ability to exercise sovereignty over the Internet.”

“It’s a different business plan,” he said. “Nothing in what I’m saying is a criticism of them. They could be highly successful. We’re playing a different ball game, but we’re both using similar technology.”

Artist’s illustration of a OneWeb satellite. The core structure measures about a meter, or 3 feet, on each side. Credit: OneWeb

Large constellations of satellites like those being deployed by OneWeb and SpaceX have raised concerns about space junk and their interference with ground-based astronomy.

Every OneWeb satellite, including those launched Thursday, has a grapple fixture to allow other spacecraft link up in orbit and bring them back into Earth’s atmosphere to burn up on re-entry.

But that measure would only be used in a worst-case scenario. OneWeb plans to deorbit its satellites after their useful lives are over, using the spacecraft’s plasma propulsion system to lower altitude and re-enter the atmosphere.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are brighter than designers predicted, and they are particularly visible soon after each launch, when the spacecraft are at lower altitudes and relatively close together.

SpaceX launched a Starlink satellite with an experimental dark coating in January to see if the change makes the craft less reflective of sunlight. But results from the experiment will not be known until the satellites reaches its operational orbit in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to do the most we can to mitigate (astronomers’ concerns),” Steckel said. “We’re not visible to the naked eye. We are visible to telescopes. It’s hard to get around some of those facts.”

Scientists have also questioned whether constellations of thousands of satellites broadcasting broadband data will interfere with radio astronomy, which uses giant antennas to listen to faint radio signals generated from distant stars and galaxies.

“With respect to radio frequency … we’ll try,” he said. “We’re going to do the most we can. I don’t know if there will be a solution that will make everybody happy. At least we’re in dialog, and we’re trying to get feedback on what can we do.”

OneWeb’s next launch is scheduled for around March 18 on another Soyuz rocket, assuming the factory team in Florida remains on track in assembling and testing the 34 satellites for shipment to Baikonur later this month.

Soyuz launches with more OneWeb satellites later this spring and summer will originate from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in far eastern Russia, near the border with China. There are also more launches for OneWeb planned from the European-run spaceport in French Guiana.

OneWeb inked a launch contract in 2015 for 21 launches with Arianespace, the French launch services provider which oversees commercial Soyuz missions. Arianespace’s subsidiary, Starsem, arranges preparations for the Soyuz missions launching from Baikonur and Vostochny, while Arianespace itself manages Soyuz launches from French Guiana.

Steckel said OneWeb needs around 16 more launches to fill out the company’s network of 588 operational satellites. The company may eventually add at least 60 more spares to get to 648 total spacecraft in the first-generation OneWeb fleet.

“The real important number is 588, which are the operational satellites,” Steckel said. “The 648 number includes 60 spares, and we’re thinking about maybe reducing the number of spares we have up there.”

Fifteen of the additional OneWeb launches will use Soyuz rockets later this year and next year from Baikonur, Vostochny and French Guiana. And OneWeb has agreed to launch at least 30 satellites on the inaugural flight of the next-generation European Ariane 6 rocket from French Guiana at the end of 2020.

Nine more OneWeb launches are scheduled this year.

“This launch … opens a series of up to nine other launches in 2020 for the benefit of OneWeb,” Israel said. “We will have up to six launches from Baikonur and Vostochny, two (Soyuz) from French Guiana … and the Ariane 62 maiden flight by the end of the year.”

Steckel acknowledged that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, which fly on Falcon 9 rockets with reused first stage boosters, have a lower launch cost than OneWeb.

“Of course, they have a launch cost that is far below mine,” Steckel said.

OneWeb has a contract for four launches on Virgin Orbit’s air-dropped LauncherOne rocket, each with two satellites. But those missions are tailored for adding replacement satellites to the fleet, or filling a gap in the network, not for getting a lot of satellites into orbit quickly.

Steckel said OneWeb is studying plans for a second-generation network, which could bring the constellation to near 2,000 satellites. He said finding a launch provider with an acceptable launch cost will be a big factor in deciding what rockets would send the upgraded satellites into orbit.

“We have conversations with other launch providers,” Steckel said. “We’re obviously already thinking about the next generation, what it looks like as a system, and what the cost of that is, and launch costs will be a big part of it.”

“What I can say is launch costs have come down significantly, and we think that the price per kilogram is coming down,” he said.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #28 dnia: Marzec 21, 2020, 19:36 »
OneWeb, SpaceX optimistic about cheap user terminals
by Caleb Henry — March 9, 2020 [SN]

OneWeb and SpaceX both aim to have low cost user terminals for their constellations. Photo shows a 2019 mock up of a OneWeb flat panel antenna. Credit: SpaceNews/Caleb Henry

WASHINGTON — Executives from SpaceX and OneWeb say their companies are working intensely on user terminals so customers will be able to get internet connectivity from their respective low Earth orbit constellations.

Both companies expect to start regional service in high northern latitudes by the end of the year — OneWeb with around 300 out of 650 satellites, and SpaceX with around 1,500 of an eventual 12,000 satellites — with global service following in 2021.

Dylan Browne, president of OneWeb’s government business unit, said the company is mirroring its satellite manufacturing approach of establishing a broad network of suppliers to build components in mass.

“We have a similar supply chain discussion around our user terminals, producing in such a volume — literally thousands a month — that we can’t have just one vendor,” Browne said.

OneWeb expects to have user terminals between $1,000 to $1,500 for community Wi-Fi services, Browne said.

Community Wi-Fi hotspots are often used to connect internet cafes and public spaces where dozens of devices connect simultaneously to the internet.

OneWeb’s “aspirational” goal for the core antenna chipsets needed to create user terminals for commercial aircraft is $150,000, Browne said.

“That would be about half of what the market price is currently,” he said. “I think we can do that.”

OneWeb has launched 40 satellites to date and has another 34 scheduled to launch later this month. Airbus and OneWeb are building satellites through a joint venture called OneWeb Satellites that Browne said reached a peak output of three satellites in a single day in February.

SpaceX, whose satellites are in a lower orbit that requires more satellites to achieve global coverage, has launched 302 satellites and has another 60 launching March 15, said Jonathan Hofeller, vice president of Starlink commercial sales at SpaceX.

In contrast to OneWeb, SpaceX is building its user terminals in-house, he said.

“The fact that we are manufacturing this in-house does give us the distinct advantage of being able to offer a very low priced terminal,” Hofeller said. “We do not have pricing at this point, but it is something that we know is critical to making this business successful.”

Browne said OneWeb has selected an integration partner for a “compact” electronically steered antenna, though he didn’t name the partner.

OneWeb has described parabolic dish antennas and flat electronically steered antennas as part of its intended user terminal portfolio.

Electronically steered antennas have the benefit of connecting to two or more satellites simultaneously, but have historically been too expensive for consumers. SpaceX has so far only discussed electronically steered antennas, a technology Hofeller said is “extremely difficult” to build at consumer-ready prices.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has described Starlink user terminals as looking like a “thin, flat, round UFO on a stick,” with motors to adjust their pointing.


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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
« Odpowiedź #29 dnia: Marzec 21, 2020, 19:37 »
Soyuz launches 34 OneWeb satellites
by Caleb Henry — March 21, 2020 [SN]
Updated at 6:15 p.m. Eastern after confirmation of payload separation.

Arianespace conducted its third launch for OneWeb March 21 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: CC Yuzhny/Roscosmos.

WASHINGTON — Arianespace launched 34 small broadband satellites for OneWeb March 21, expanding the startup’s constellation to 74 satellites in low Earth orbit.

Arianespace’s Soyuz rocket lifted off from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:06 p.m. Eastern. OneWeb confirmed all 34 satellites separated from the rocket’s Fregat upper stage in a news release issued at 6:10 p.m. Eastern.

OneWeb will use each satellite’s onboard electric propulsion to raise their altitude from their 450-kilometer drop off point to a final 1,200-kilometer orbit.

OneWeb expects to start regional service late this year with around 300 satellites, followed by global service in 2021 with 588 satellites. The company plans to launch 60 spare satellites to complete an initial constellation of 648 spacecraft, but hasn’t decided when those spares will launch.

Adrian Steckel, OneWeb’s chief executive, said in February that the company would take a month long break in April from launching to incorporate a redesigned spacecraft element for future satellites. Subsequent launches, initially planned at a monthly cadence, may be conducted at a more varied pace, he said.

OneWeb has contracts with Arianespace for 22 launches, of which three have occured, counting Saturday’s mission.

The companies have nine more missions planned for this year, though that schedule could be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Three of those missions — two Soyuz and the maiden Ariane 6 flight — are planned from the now-closed Guiana Space Center in South America. Arianespace said March 16 it was suspending launches from French Guiana following the French government’s call for limiting non-essential activities to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

OneWeb is also reportedly considering bankruptcy, according to Bloomberg, because of a shortage of cash. OneWeb spokesperson Heidi Dillard told SpaceNews March 19 the company would not comment on any “rumors or speculation” when asked about the report.

OneWeb had raised $3.4 billion as of February, but has not stated how much the company needs to complete its constellation. In 2017, OneWeb founder Greg Wyler described the company as a $4 billion venture, but that was before the company started building spacecraft.

OneWeb’s satellites, built in Merritt Island, Florida, through a joint venture with Airbus Defence and Space, ended up costing $1 million each — twice as much as OneWeb had hoped.

Roger Rusch, president of the satellite consulting firm TelAstra, told SpaceNews last year that OneWeb likely needs $7.5 billion to complete its constellation. “The realistic number is probably far beyond where they are right now,” he said.

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Odp: [SpaceNews] OneWeb’s Big Announcement Should Quiet Doubters
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