Greg Wyler, founder and chairman of the OneWeb Communications, made a presentation at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on 22 February on the technology and prospects for the firm’s planned constellation. During his speech he also noted a plan for a larger follow-on constellation.
The innovative idea of the OneWeb firm is to provide mobile communications satellite services via a low Earth orbit constellation of hundreds of satellites. Such a configuration avoids the problems with “latency” (signal delay) and low signal strength that users tend to suffer when using larger communications satellites located in the much higher geostationary orbit. The initial OneWeb constellation of up to 900 satellites including spares will begin to be launched from 2018.
A particularly intriguing part of Wyler’s presentation featured OneWeb’s ambitions for a second-generation constellation of 2,000 satellites, scheduled to begin launching in 2022. It is targeted to have a total transmittable capacity of one Petabit per second (Pbps), equivalent to about 1 million gigabits (Gbps), and over 100 times greater than the capacity of the first constellation which is said to be near seven terabits (Tbps).
Another key part of Greg Wyler’s presentation was on the responsible use of space. This is clearly an important cause to Wyler, as he stressed the reliability and redundancy of his new OneWeb satellites. Pro-active, de-orbit plans are part of OneWeb’s commitment to keep space clear. It plans to de-orbit all of its satellites within two to five years after their retirement.