OneWeb challenge for next generation LEO satellite designs

April 23, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
OneWeb challenge for next generation LEO satellite designs
OneWeb, the UK-owned low earth orbit satellite operator, is launching a European challenge to find new technologies for its next generation designs.

OneWeb is looking for industrial and engineering partners, academia and research professionals across sectors to present proposals as part of the next generation satellite programme.

 Various technologies have already been suggested, with techniques to add positioning capabilities  to the broadband data service that goes live later this year.  

The Innovation Challenge invites proposals on satellite design, production, orbit, flight operations and responsible de-orbiting to avoid creating more debris in orbit.

OneWeb’s current satellites use many industrial off-the-shelf components and the company expects the challenge to identify further new technology from industries outside the space sector, including automotive and Formula 1, aeronautical, micro-electronics, materials sciences and other industries.

The current satellites are built by a joint venture with Airbus in Florida, with companies such as Hughes as part of the consortium now owned by the UK government and Bharti Telecom of India.

“Space is the future for communications on Earth. To get there, we are building a technology roadmap that continuously redefines existing mindsets with new ideas, innovations, and exciting partnership opportunities,” said Massimiliano Ladovaz, chief technology officer of OneWeb.

“The opportunity is to play an active part in the definition and execution of OneWeb’s next generation satellite programme. The winners will join a growing list of companies with access to OneWeb’s resources to help grow their ideas and be part of our global supply chain,” he added.

The challenge is open across Europe. Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at the European Space Agency, said: "ESA strongly supports innovation in the space industry to enable Europe to succeed in highly competitive global markets. We are delighted to support OneWeb's initiative to identify innovative ideas and to bring them to reality. Investing in space improves life on Earth."

Commercial entities will compete in the Industrial Partners category to be part of co-engineering a new generation of satellite, with the opportunity to supply components for OneWeb’s constellation.  Academic and research-based entities will participate in the Student / Research category with successful entrants eligible for an invitation to attend a rocket launch event, and up to five paid internships working on OneWeb's satellite programmes.

Finalists will be shortlisted in June, when six will be invited to present their proposals to the OneWeb Innovation Challenge jury, with the awards announced on 21 June 2021.

Register for the challenge at www.oneweb.world/innovation-2021 and submit a proposal by 17 May.

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Picture: 
Five OneWeb satellites on the production line in Florida

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