OneWeb’s satellite factory is quickly taking shape in Florida.

The manufacturing plant, located just outside the gates of the Kennedy Space Center and near Blue Origin’s New Glenn factory, will be used to produce the bulk of the company’s initial constellation of 900 broadband communications satellites.

OneWeb broke ground on the factory in March, and recent photos showed its exterior structure already in place. OneWeb expects the factory to start satellite production in early 2018. [Washington Business Journal]

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Aerojet Rocketdyne says the cost to date of developing the AR1 engine is more than $200 million. The company said in its latest financial filings that the total research and development expenses for the engine is $228.2 million. The company is developing the engine under an agreement with the U.S. Air Force, with the service paying two-thirds of the costs. Aerojet is developing the AR1 for potential use on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan vehicle, although ULA has stated that they consider Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine the front-runner to power the Vulcan’s first stage. Development of the AR1 remains on schedule, the company said. [SpaceNews]

As cubesats and other small satellites take on more advanced missions, reliability is a growing concern. In a talk at the Conference on Small Satellites, a NASA official said that cubesats aren’t suited to some advanced science missions the agency is contemplating because of concerns that such spacecraft have high failure rates. A “fly/re-try” approach to cubesats works for some applications, but not others, so NASA is taking a greater interest in improving reliability. NASA’s Small Satellite Virtual Institute has started a reliability initiative to work wth industry on improving the “mission confidence” of cubesat components. [SpaceNews]

A new smallsat launch venture wants to provide launches with a balloon-based system. CloudIX (“cloud nine”) plans to use balloons to loft small rockets into the stratosphere, from which the rockets would place payloads of up to 22 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The company is planning its first test flight of the launch system in December. [SpaceNews]

A new satellite manufacturing plant will give Lockheed Martin greater flexibility in developing and testing a wide range of satellites. The Gateway Center, to be built at the company’s Denver facility, will be able to accommodate both large communications satellites and smaller planetary spacecraft, with assembly and testing facilities under the same roof. That will allow the entire “build cycle” of satellites to be done in the same place, without the need and expense of moving spacecraft to different buildings for assembly and testing. [SpaceNews]

Gogo says the loss it is taking now investing in satellite systems for aircraft connectivity will pay off down the road. The company took a loss of $44 million in the second quarter of 2017, 10 percent greater than the same quarter of 2016. The company defended the loss, incurred in part because of costs of equipping aircraft with 2Ku satellite broadband system, by arguing that the system will be a “source of future growth and profitability” for the company. Gogo expects to be profitable by 2019. [SpaceNews]

Clyde Space and Teledyne e2v plan to jointly develop a nanosatellite to test quantum technologies.The Cold Atom Space Payload will be a nanosatellite to test the ability of atoms, cooled to nearly absolute zero, to detect miniscule changes in the Earth’s gravity while orbiting the planet. The mission is funded by Innovate UK and is expected to launch by the end of the decade. [SpaceNews]

Russia is considering a proposal to fly some Glonass navigation satellites in a highly elliptical orbit.The head of satellite manufacturer ISS Reshetnev said that, if his company’s proposal is approved as expected, the company will start work in 2019 to fly six Glonass satellites in a highly elliptical orbit. Those satellites will be in addition to the existing medium-Earth-orbit satellite constellation. The company did not discuss the benefits of flying Glonass satellites in the new orbit. [TASS]

A shuttle-era structure at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A is slowly disappearing. Crews have been dismantling the Rotating Service Structure at the pad, which is no longer needed by the pad’s tenant, SpaceX. Crews took advantage of down time at the pad in the last month to take apart large sections of the structure. NASA owns the structure and will sell the scrap metal from it. The structure should be completely removed by the end of the year. [Spaceflight Now]

A British company believes it can create nearly 100 jobs by launching satellites from a proposed spaceport in Wales. B2Space proposes to use the Llanbedr airfield for a small launch vehicle, carried aloft by a balloon, with as many as 20 missions a year by 2020 proposed from the site should the company develop its vehicle on schedule. That would would create 93 jobs at Llanbedr, which has previously been shortlisted as a site for a commercial spaceport in the U.K. [BBC]

An engineer at Blue Origin has a side pursuit: racing boats. Jimmy Shane won the Seafair Cup in Seattle over the weekend in a hydroplane boat race. Shane had been interested in racing boats since a child, and when he moved with family to Seattle several years ago he looked for a day job while he continued racing. He said his experience working with carbon fiber technologies for his boats helped him get a job at Blue Origin. Shane has been at the company for four years, working as an integration engineer. [GeekWire]

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...