The portfolio of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will soon include large-scale satellite manufacturing following Thursday’s groundbreaking for a 150,000-square foot spacecraft factory in the center’s Exploration Park.
“This is all a part of our vision for a multi-user
spaceport,” said Kelvin Manning, associate director of Kennedy. “I think when people signed up to work at Kennedy Space Center, they wanted to come to the place where we launch rockets.”
OneWeb, in partnership with Airbus’ American branch, intends to build 2,000 satellites that will form a constellation capable of wirelessly connecting every portion of the world to the Internet. The satellites will launch from the Kennedy spaceport as well, some on New Glenn rockets that will be built in the Blue Origin factory across the street from the OneWeb facility. Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne, an air-launched rocket flying from the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy, also will send some of the OneWeb satellites into orbit.
Rick Scott, governor of Florida, hailed the company’s decision to open the factory at Kennedy, noting the company’s goals enhance the value of the commercial space environment as it develops.
“OneWeb’s building this factory and providing jobs and they’re going to provide affordable Internet access worldwide so everybody has a chance to experience the Internet and get the benefits of the Internet,” Scott said.
The development is part of renaissance at the space center built on a philosophy of opening the center’s extensive capabilities and work force to commercial enterprises as well as government operations. It also works close partnerships with organizations such as Space Florida which administers Exploration Park.
“This is another exciting addition to the Multiuser Spaceport at the Kennedy Space Center,” said Tom Engler, acting director of Kennedy’s Center Planning and Development. “Having the OneWeb factory adding to all of the great capability that is here at Kennedy is fantastic. Seeing how we continue to evolve is going to be very exciting.”
Photos by NASA/Kim Shiflett, concept art by OneWeb.