OneWeb ‘plans optical links’ for next generation of satellites

OneWeb ‘plans optical links’ for next generation of satellites

Sunil Bharti Mittal.jpg

OneWeb’s second generation of satellites will use optical intersatellite links, software defined radios and networks, and-on board signal regeneration and traffic routing.

The company published details of its advanced plans for a new satellite fleet in a job ad for a London-based senior payload systems engineer.

Sunil Bharti Mittal (pictured), executive chairman of OneWeb, has already told Capacity that what he called “gen two” of the company’s fleet will go into service “in 2024-25”, speaking in an interviewthat will be published next week in the February/March issue of the magazine.

This will follow OneWeb’s first generation, that will start commercial service in October 2021 over part of the world, with global coverage due for May-June 2022.

But this is the first time OneWeb has given details about what it is looking for with the second generation of satellites. The person selected will be based at a satellite operations centre in London, says the ad.

OneWeb is partly owned by the UK government following an injection of US$500 million into the bankrupt company last year. Mittal’s own company invested a similar amount, and SoftBank has put in $350 million. 

He told Capacity that OneWeb will be a wholesale-only operation, launching this year over the region between 50° north latitude and the north pole and extending globally next year once all 648 of the first generation of satellites are in service.

In his interview with Capacity, Mittal said that the second generation will also offer a global positioning service, a move that will make the UK independent of the US-based GPS service and the EU’s Galileo. The UK will no longer have full access to Galileo following its departure from the EU.

OneWeb says in the job ad that it would “love” the successful candidate to have “experience working with the European Space Agency”. It says: “We are building a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites with a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals to provide an affordable, fast, high-bandwidth and low-latency broadband communications services, connected to the IoT future and a pathway to 5G.”


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