OneWeb emphasizes lower latency as an advantage its proposed constellation of low-orbit satellites have over traditional geostationary communications satellites. Credit: OneWeb video

WASHINGTON – OneWeb LLC Chief Technology Officer Dave Bettinger on March 18 said the company is within weeks of selecting a prime contractor for its 900 low orbiting Internet delivery satellites and that the first launches would occur in 2017.

Bettinger said a launch-service provider would be selected within a couple of months and that the company’s major launch year — 2018 — now appears to include sufficient capacity among the available launch-service providers. “The commercial launchers have plenty of openings in 2018 for now,” Bettinger said. “Of course, if all the proposed LEO constellations wanted to launch that year, that could pose a problem.”

OneWeb satellites are expected to weigh no more than 250 kilograms at lalunch, with each capable of providing 6 gigabits per second of data throughput. Asked whether the five bids OneWeb is evaluating from U.S. and European satellite builders gave the company confidence that each satellite could be produced for $500,000, Bettinger said: “I think we can get it below that.”

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.