Airbus to build the world's biggest satellite constellation

The OneWeb startup founded by Richard Branson's Virgin and Qualcomm, has announced that it has awarded European aerospace giant Airbus a multi-billion dollar production contract for internet-beaming satellites. The company aims provide connectivity to underserved communities around the world through an enormous constellation of small satellites -- each one only weighing about 150kg and costing under $500,000 to produce. Of the 900 units that Airbus is contracted to create, 700 of them will be launched by 2018. Once in orbit they'll create a constellation 10 times larger than any other satellite set currently in orbit. The other 200 will be held on-planet as replacements and backups. Airbus will reportedly produce 10 initial satellites at its Toulouse manufacturing facility before moving the operation to an undisclosed American facility for the remainder of the program.

[Image Credit: Alamy]