Airbus Defence and Space and OneWeb have formed a joint venture, OneWeb Satellites, to develop 900 satellites that will offer high-speed internet globally.

The OneWeb constellation of low Earth orbit satellites is intended to provide connectivity to remote areas worldwide, with more than ten terabits per second of new capacity by 2019.

OneWeb Satellites, equally owned by Airbus and OneWeb, will also build satellites, platforms and equipment for other operators. The equipment will be marketed by Airbus.

OneWeb CEO Matt O’Connell said: "As we build out the constellation, besides its very reliable satellite performance heritage and technical support, Airbus brings design for manufacturing capability into this operation, which is key to achieving both our short-term and long term goals for providing cost-effective solutions on time for our future customers."

Announced in June 2015, the new joint venture will design 900 satellites. The first ten will be built in France, while mass production is being planned in North America.

Airbus Programmes Space Systems head Eric Béranger said: "For several months now, we have been working on the design of this unprecedented constellation and how we are going to manufacture them, both groundbreaking in their own way.

"The next step will be to set up a prototype line in Toulouse for production of the first ten satellites.

"The next step will be to set up a prototype line in Toulouse for production of the first ten satellites."

"This will also be used to test the industrialisation method for the series production of the other satellites."

Weighing less than 150kg, the micro satellites will be made of lightweight materials and fewer components than traditional ones.

Patent-pending user terminals onboard the satellites will provide high-speed connectivity, and have the option to include solar panels, battery packs, and WiFi / LTE / 3G and 2G radios to provide coverage directly to cell phones, tablets and laptops.

Progressive Pitch technology tilts satellites when they approach the equator to ensure they do not interfere with GEO satellites.

At the end of their life, the satellites are programmed to de-orbit automatically, keeping the space around Earth free of debris. The satellites will be launched by Arianespace and Virgin Galactic starting from 2018 and will reach their orbital positions using electrical propulsion.

OneWeb’s project is being supported by Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat, Qualcomm, Coca-Cola, Totalplay, and Virgin Group, with an initial investment of $500m. The project is expected to cost $2bn.

In June, the company acquired more than 65 rockets, including 21 Soyuz launch orders from Arianespace and 39 launches from Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne.