TO BOLDLY GO
The BOSS Magazine|April 2021
An astoundin mission to bring the internet to everyone on the planet is changing the way we think about mass production and procurement. Airbus Oneweb Satellites is shattering earthly bonds and long-held expectations about the linits of possibility.

Every day, Airbus OneWeb Satellites (AOS) does the impossible. AOS is the manufacturer of the OneWeb Constellation, a network of hundreds and potentially thousands of small, low-Earth orbit satellites, bringing affordable high-speed internet access to everyone, everywhere. Formed as a joint venture between OneWeb, a British startup now majority owned and controlled by India’s Bharti Enterprises and the Government of the United Kingdom, and Airbus, the doyenne of global aerospace companies, AOS is the first company to apply serial production techniques to satellites at an industrial scale, setting a new paradigm in manufacturing and revolutionizing space procurement.

The satellites that AOS produce are smaller than traditional satellites, weighing just 150 kg (330 pounds) and manufactured at 1/50th the cost of a traditional unit. Incredibly, AOS’s production flow is geared to produce up to two satellites a day, with significant surge capacity built in, whereas traditional satellite production was measured in years.

Over 110 satellites have been launched to date, and the remainder are scheduled to be in space and operational by 2022. Between 32-36 satellites are launched at a time on a single rocket that carries them to a low-Earth orbit of approximately 1,200 km (745 miles).

The satellites were designed, and the first models were built, in AOS’s facility in Toulouse, France. In 2019, AOS shifted to full serial production at its 100,000-sq-ft stateof-the-art manufacturing facility located next to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A model of international cooperation, the project brings together global suppliers in a complex and diverse supply chain. The multinational procurement team features native speakers of nine languages, and suppliers distributed across 11 time zones.

“In terms of work share, it was important that companies were gaining an advantage from the potential benefits of this program and ultimately the New Space industry, and being the first to engage in mass production for satellite manufacturing is a distinct advantage.”

It’s the first-ever mass production of space equipment, and Judy Wallace is responsible for getting all the pieces together. As Chief Procurement Officer for the venture, she oversees a 30-person strong multinational team, geographically split between Florida and France. With 30 Tier 1 suppliers and roughly 200 Tier 2 and Tier 3 vendors, Wallace and AOS have taken the industrial serial supply chain model from the world of aircraft and applied it to the formerly bespoke world of satellites.

“In terms of work share, it was important that companies were gaining an advantage from the and ultimately the New Space engage in mass production for satellite manufacturing is a distinct advantage.”

Judy Wallace, Chief procurement Officer

“Our industrial model relies on outside companies, so we have a mindset of coalitions and international partnerships,” she said. “The ability to manage that kind of network is all about partnerships and building relationships. These aren’t one-off contracts; we are doing something that’s never been done before in the space industry, and the strength of those relationships are absolutely key to our success.”

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