News | 05.03.2019

OneWeb launches pathfinder satellites

The first six satellites for OneWeb’s mega-constellation have launched. The spacecraft are the pathfinders in a network the London-based start-up is building to take high-speed broadband internet to every corner of the globe. Other companies have similar plans, but OneWeb believes it has first-mover advantage with an operational system.

The platforms’ most important task is to secure the frequencies needed to relay the coming network’s internet connections. Assuming the pathfinders perform as expected, OneWeb will then begin the mass rollout of the rest of the constellation towards the end of the year.

Every OneWeb satellite of the constellation will have electric propulsion to enable deorbiting, OneWeb will use mini Hall Effect Thrusters (HET) and optimized PPUs.

Satellite technology is much, much less expensive than it used to be, and the large number of satellites needed for the network reduces the unit cost. Even so, the spacecraft being turned out by OneWeb partner Airbus have a price of about one million dollars. When you add in all the ground infrastructure needed to operate the system, the overall expense runs to more than three billion.

Several other groups have registered their interest in competing with OneWeb, including SpaceX. SpaceX even has a couple satellites in orbit now to demonstrate technologies.

Commentators seem sure of only one thing: the market will not support all of the proposed mega-constellations.

For more info, please visit the BBC link: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47374246