The largest space fleet in history will be created and put into orbit with the help of Russian components and rockets
Photo by the Roskosmos press service / federalspace.ru/Oleg Artemyev
Yesterday it became known that the ambitious project to launch the OneWeb telecommunications satellite fleet will take place with very close cooperation with Russian companies. They will not only help put the largest satellite fleet into orbit, but also supply components for creating satellites.
Roscosmos signed a contract with the French company Arianespace and the British OneWeb for 21 commercial launches of 672 satellites on Soyuz launch vehicles. At least 15 launches will be carried out from Baikonur and Russian cosmodromes, and the rest from the Kourou airfield (French Guiana). Launches will begin in 2017, and in two years the entire satellite network will have to earn in orbit.
If everything goes well, then to launch additional satellites, Western companies have reserved five more launches of Soyuz after 2020. According to the head of Roscosmos, Igor Komarov, this is the largest contract for the provision of launch services in history. He also noted that the choice for launches of the Soyuz indicates the high competitiveness of Russian rocket and space technology.
In addition, the satellites themselves will be manufactured using Russian components. Satellites under a contract with OneWeb will be manufactured by the European manufacturer Airbus Defense and Space (ADS). Airbus will purchase stationary plasma engines, which will serve to correct the orbit, from the Kaliningrad OKB "Fakel", and batteries for satellites from the Krasnodar OJSC "Saturn". And for the arrangement of satellites in orbital positions, it is planned to use the Fregat acceleration units manufactured by the Khimki NPO named after Lavochkin.
“ADS has the task of making an inexpensive satellite, so that each device in the series costs no more than € 500 thousand,” a source from Roscosmos explained. - Up to 900 devices will be in orbit at the same time, they will be launched a lot, so the equipment is determined by the price / quality ratio. SPD engines are out of competition here; they have already been exported to foreign spacecraft. We also know from our European partners that ADS became interested in the products of the Saturn OJSC in Krasnodar, which supplies batteries for various spacecraft. Their products are also used on the ISS.
Projects to create global Internet access through an extensive satellite network have been tried for a long time. In the late 90s, Bill Gates reflected on the Teledesic project. 980 satellites were supposed to provide broadband access anywhere in the world. But due to the dull financial performance of other global communication systems, Iridium and GlobalStar, the project was not implemented.
Five years ago, already in our century, the Internet giant Google started financing the O3b Networks project. But in the end, the company set sail for free, calling itself OneWeb. Now among its investors are Virgin, Qualcomm, Airbus, Hughes, Coca-Cola. Virgin CEO Richard Branson even sits on the company's board of directors.
It is possible that after 4-5 years people will no longer need to look for the nearest access point, and mobile operators will have to radically revise their tariffs.