PARIS — Startup satellite Internet service provider OneWeb LLC has leased 6,000 square feet (557 square meters) of office space outside Washington, in what company founder Greg Wyler said was one of several facilities to be established as OneWeb prepares to enter service over the next two years.
OneWeb, based in Britain’s Channel Islands, intends to launch 720 small satellites into low Earth orbit for a global Ku-band broadband connectivity business.
Most of the satellites will be launched aboard Russian Soyuz rockets from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, starting in 2018. A Europeanized Soyuz, operated from France’s Guiana Space Center in South America, is scheduled to launch 10 test satellites in late 2017.
The Evry, France-based Arianespace launch consortium, which will manage both the Baikonur and French Guiana launch campaigns, said Jan. 5 that plans remain on track for the first of 21 Soyuz OneWeb launches in late 2017.
The test satellites are to be built by Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France. The balance of the constellation will be manufactured at a still-unselected plant in the United States by a joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus.
In a Jan. 5 interview, Wyler said the Washington venue, in addition to its proximity to the U.S. regulatory apparatus, is convenient because it’s near OneWeb partners Hughes Network Systems, who will build OneWeb ground hardware; and satellite fleet operator Intelsat, which is working to enable OneWeb customers to pass between OneWeb and Intelsat satellites – in geostationary orbit – when coverage demands it.
OneWeb already has a small staff working at Hughes and Intelsat locations, and they ultimately will move to the new offices, located in Rosslyn, Virginia.
Wyler said the aerospace talent pool around Washington is deep and includes broadband terminal provider iDirect and satellite builder Orbital ATK. The location is also near the former headquarters of geospatial-intelligence provider GeoEye Inc., since purchased by competitor DigitalGlobe.
OneWeb Chief Executive Matt O’Connell is a former chief executive of GeoEye.
Monday Properties, the real estate investment firm that owns the Rosslyn office, said the property includes a locker and shower facility.