OneWeb Satellites has opened its assembly line in Toulouse, France, to commence end-to-end validation, testing and integration of its first satellites set for launch in more than nine months.

A joint venture between global communications company OneWeb, and Airbus Defence and Space, OneWeb Satellites’ first order includes the production of 900 communications satellites for low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite fleet.

The 4,600m² Toulouse facility will help to validate the necessary production approaches for satellites, and lay the framework for larger multi-line OneWeb Satellites factory near the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

“Airbus thrives on innovation and innovation is at the core of this joint endeavour with OneWeb."

The initial ten pilot and Toulouse-built satellites will have to undergo tests, following which they will become part of OneWeb’s fleet.

Benefitting from the industrial and space expertise of Airbus, this facility will feature automation, test equipment and have data acquisition capabilities to reduce assembly times.

The satellites will offer in-orbit data to confirm the design of the spacecraft.

OneWeb founder and chairman Greg Wyler said: “We have just about nine months until the first of our fleet launches into orbit.

“Then, if all goes well, we will begin the world’s largest launch campaign, sending new satellites up every 21 days, and building not just a fleet but a digital bridge to enable affordable broadband access for the billions of unconnected around the world.”

In addition to developing the fleet, OneWeb Satellites will offer customised versions of satellites, platforms and core technologies to Airbus to support third-party sales to other commercial and government operators worldwide.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders said: “Airbus thrives on innovation and innovation is at the core of this joint endeavour with OneWeb. Never before have high-quality satellites been produced at such little cost, at such a fast pace and in such high quantities. As such, OneWeb is truly a transformational project, not just for Airbus but for the space industry as a whole.”

The development of this facility has received support of Bpifrance under the framework of the Programme d’Investissements d’Avenir (PIA) in France.