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OneWeb receives £18m to expand satellite constellation

OneWeb has been awarded £18 million of UK Space Agency funding by the European Space Agency to extend its satellite constellation for global communications. The news has been announced one week ahead of OneWeb’s planned launch of its first of ten satellite batches.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The £18m will go towards meeting the technical challenges of delivering communications, support novel automation technologies and artificial intelligence to manage the proposed constellation of spacecraft and its interaction with terrestrial networks to realise global 5G connectivity. 

The OneWeb system will be comprised of 650 satellites initially, extending to more than 900 satellites over time.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore, said: “The commercial potential for a cost effective worldwide telecoms satellite system is huge, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it. It is made possible by our ongoing commitment to the European Space Agency and our world-leading capabilities in space and telecommunications, which we are supporting through our modern Industrial Strategy.

UK business OneWeb will employ up to 200 staff at its White City offices and will deploy hundreds of satellites with the aim of providing more affordable internet connectivity to people and businesses across the world.

Adrian Steckel, CEO, OneWeb said: “Providing access to people everywhere has been the mission and vision of OneWeb since the very beginning. We will be able to realize this vision in part because of important partnerships like this one with the UK Space Agency, ESA and a range of other important partners including our European and Canadian partners. Thanks to this support, we will focus together on next generation technologies that will be game changers for realizing global 5G connectivity.”

“We are excited about the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to develop novel automation techniques that could help manage our constellation in future and ensure we do so safely and responsibly so that we can protect space for future generations.”

The announcement is part of the UK’s investment in the ESA’s telecommunications research programme (ARTES).

Magali Vaissiere, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, commented: “Sunrise is a prominent endeavour falling under our Satellite for 5G Initiative. It represents the exciting and required new direction ESA is taking in support of our Member States’ industry to remain at the forefront of not only the most advanced developments within the space world, but also to enable the necessary complement to the terrestrial networks that satellites will have to play to ensure a successful and fully inclusive digitalisation of industry and society.”

This ESA project will span seven nations including Canada.{/mprestriction}

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