The UK Space Agency has announced that it has awarded £18 million to the satellite communications firm, OneWeb. With the additional funding, OneWeb will be able to provide fast internet access all around the world from an array of over 900 satellites in space. Aside from the wide geographic locations the satellites will provide internet access in, the firm also hopes the service will be affordable for people and businesses around the world. With this network, OneWeb will be going toe to toe with Elon Musk's Starlink.
Discussing the news Chris Skidmore, the UK's Science Minister, 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.”
With the funds, the UK-based OneWeb will carry out its Sunrise programme which focuses on developing next-gen satellite payloads, ground connections, and space debris removal. The firm will also develop automation techniques and AI to manage the array of satellites and their interaction with Earth-based networks in order to provide 5G connectivity to customers.
Following several delays, OneWeb is scheduled to send six satellites up to an orbit of 1,200km. Subsequent launches are due to carry up 34 satellites at a time to help build out the array. It’s expected that these satellites will be able to deliver speeds of at least 8 gigabits per second using a high throughput Ku-band payload, once the array is complete.