|Industry||Satellite Internet access|
|Headquarters||London, England, U.K.|
McLean, Virginia, United States
OneWeb, formerly known as WorldVu Satellites, is a global communications company founded by Greg Wyler. The company is headquartered in London, United Kingdom and McLean, Virginia, United States with offices in Florida, California, and more. OneWeb commenced launches of the OneWeb satellite constellation, a network of more than 650 low Earth orbit satellites, on February 27, 2019.
Its intended goal is to provide internet services to "everyone, everywhere" delivering much needed connectivity to rural and remote places as well as to a range of markets including aero, maritime, land mobility, cellular backhaul.
The company was founded in 2012 under the name WorldVu, based in Britain's Channel Islands. OneWeb secured $500 million in funding including launch deals with Virgin Galactic and Arianespace in 2015.
In December 2016, OneWeb raised $1 billion from SoftBank Group Corp. and $200 million from existing investors. In July 2016, one year after the initial announcement, OneWeb stated they were on schedule.
In February 2017, OneWeb announced that it expected to sell all of its capacity by launch time, yet the only announced capacity sold was for a joint Gogo and Intelsat venture. Wyler announced he was considering nearly quadrupling the size of the satellite constellation by adding 1,972 additional satellites that it has priority rights to. With the original capital raise of $500 million in 2015, plus the $1 billion investment of SoftBank in 2016, previous "investors committed to an additional $200 million, bringing OneWeb’s total capital raised to $1.7 billion."
On February 27, 2019, OneWeb successfully launched its first six satellites into low Earth orbit from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana using a Soyuz-2 rocket. The same day OneWeb announced that it signed its first two client agreements marking the beginning of its commercialization. On March 18, 2019, OneWeb announced it had secured $1.25 billion in funding following a successful first launch.
By August 2019, the company had 6 of its satellites broadcasting at the right frequencies for 90 days, meeting the “use-it-or-lose-it” spectrum conditions set by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union. This secured the vital rights OneWeb needed to operate its global satellite broadband network.
OneWeb will launch 30-36 satellites a month to create an initial constellation of 650 satellites. The satellites operate in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). OneWeb chose an altitude of 1,200 kilometers for its satellites because there is a minimum existing population of satellites and debris at that altitude.
Like existing LEO based communications satellite constellations, OneWeb’s satellites are closer to Earth and will therefore provide much lower transmission delays than geostationary satellite broadband services. OneWeb plans to provide 10 times the bandwidth and one-tenth of the latency of existing geostationary satellites.
July 22, 2019 marked the grand opening of OneWeb’s new factory in Space Florida’s Exploration Park on Merritt Island near Cape Canaveral. The factory is a joint venture with Airbus and produces two satellites a day. The satellites are programmed to detect the end of their life span after 5-7 years in orbit, and dismantle themselves from space and burn up in the atmosphere as they descend towards Earth.
In June 2019, OneWeb rolled out its initiative Responsible Space to outline the specific approaches it plans to take to promote sustainability and safe operations in space. Responsible Space covers design and operational practices, including disposal of a satellite within 5 years of the end of its mission; developing an “ecosystem” within the space industry that supports sustainability; and collaboration with other space operators. As one example, OneWeb plans to include a grapple fixture on its satellites so that a third-party satellite could grab it and tug it out of orbit, should the satellite prove non-responsive.
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