New OneWeb Factory Makes Two Satellites A Day

Mass-production facility could shake up satellite manufacturing sector.

OneWeb Satellites has just opened a new factory in Florida that will be able to crank out two satellites a day.

The satellites will be produced for OneWeb’s constellation in orbit. OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb, plans to deploy 648 satellites to the constellation within the next couple of years—and the constellation will eventually have about 2,000 satellites. The first batch of 34 satellites is anticipated to launch in December—and those satellites will be made at this new facility.

OneWeb's new factory

OneWeb’s new factory

Located next to the Kennedy Space Center, the $85 million production facility was designed from scratch with the sole purpose of making satellites. It’s about 105,500 square feet in size—roughly the same as two football fields. It features two assembly lines that will optimize manufacturing efficiency, resulting in cut costs and increased volume. The factory will will use automated guided robots to move components from one station to another. It also has a 46,000 square foot ISO 8 clean room.

The company boasts that its factory will be the most advanced and highest volume satellite production facility in the world. At full capacity it will be able to roll out 15 satellites per week. And it will benefit immensely from being co-located within an actual spaceport—meaning that a satellite could be launched within hours of coming off the assembly line. This would also help cut costs and time.

OneWeb by the numbers (image courtesy of OneWeb)

OneWeb by the numbers (image courtesy of OneWeb)

“Building two satellites a day is a pretty hard thing to do. Trust me, it takes a lot of ingenuity and a lot of hard work,” said Tony Gingiss, chairman and CEO of OneWeb Satellites. “We are going to pioneer serial satellite production. It is something that has not been done in the industry.”

Conventional satellite production is usually a labor-intensive process with lots of hands-on work that produces one or two satellites a year. OneWeb Satellites’ mass-production factory has the potential of turning the satellite manufacturing industry on its ear, vastly accelerating the production process while enabling the manufacture of low-cost, quickly-deployed satellites.

“OneWeb is doing for the satellite industry what Henry Ford did for cars,” said FCC Chair Ajit Pai.

Read more about OneWeb’s innovative satellite constellation at OneWeb Launches First Satellites for Its Orbital Constellation.