WASHINGTON and MOSCOW — Five years ago this month, Intelsat ordered the first of what is now six high-throughput Epic-class satellites. That soon-to-be global network is now mostly in orbit, with the fifth satelli…
In contrast to the millions of cars and thousands of airplanes produced annually, satellites are produced in much lower numbers. Even OneWeb’s mega-constellation, doesn’t provide the scale needed to justify the upfront expense of automating assembly.
The OneWeb-Airbus joint venture tasked with building 900 satellites for OneWeb plans to keep its first production line in France running to build satellites for other operators.
Intelsat-33e, which took longer to enter service because of a broken thruster, is now taking longer than expected to fill with paying customers.
Satellite broadband startup OneWeb says no other system on its low-Earth orbit satellites will be built for higher reliability than the deorbit module it is including to prevent the creation of space debris.
Work on the first 10 satellites formally started Tuesday at an Airbus factory on France, with a goal of having the satellites completed and launched by next April.
The companies signed the contract Thursday with the European Space Agency, which procures the satellites on behalf of the EU.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signaled his support for the company, saying its system "holds unique promise to expand internet access in remote and rural areas."
OneWeb says that the now near-certain collapse of its planned merger with Intelsat has by no means slowed any of the company’s progress, and that other geostationary satellite operators have already expressed interest in taking Intelsat’s place.
The debt swap was a condition of a planned investment by Japan's SoftBank as part of a merger with OneWeb announced earlier this year.
One day after the deadline passed for a debt swap Intelsat needs to ensure its merger with OneWeb — and a $1.7 billion investment from Japanese conglomerate Softbank — come to fruition, Intelsat has again extended the window for shareholders to participate to May 15.
Global satellite fleet operator Intelsat says mobility customers have become the “power users” of its first high-throughput satellites, providing reliable demand while other sectors warm to the new systems at a slower rate.
Sources said the company planned to extend the deadline for bondholders to exchange current bonds with new ones until mid-May.
OneWeb has signed on as Blue Origin’s second customer for its New Glenn orbital launch vehicle, both companies announced March 8.