The giant aerospace and defence manufacturer has started building a mega-network of satellites, alongside partner OneWeb.
The final number could eventually total 2000 with the aim of delivering broadband connectivity from space to every corner of the planet. Such large demand in production has borne a change in the manufacturing process itself.
Chief Executive at Airbus Tom Enders,”Everything in space as you know traditionally has been ‘gold-plated’… Here, we’ve had to go other ways, to be really commercial and calculating according to the target cost because that is very decisive in the whole business case for OneWeb”
New assembly lines that look more at home on a factory shop floor have been adopted, setting the ambitious target of three spacecraft per shift rotation. The first 10 to come off the Toulouse production line are due to launch in April 2018.
The supply chain and logistics network have also evolved to cope with the new quick-build process, but VP Space Systems Nicolas Chamussy warns, “Not everything here is [an] application to the whole space industry. When we launch to Jupiter, there are things that will remain gold-plated whether we like it or not; unless of course we start to manufacture 900 satellites to go to Jupiter but this is not the case today,”