Eutelsat-OneWeb: the future European weapon against SpaceX

No summer break in the small world of space. The French operator Eutelsat confirmed, Monday, July 25, to be in negotiations for the acquisition of the OneWeb constellation, specialist in internet connectivity by satellite, of which it already owns 23%. Eutelsat, the world’s third largest operator (35 telecom satellites in geostationary orbit, 36,000 km from the Earth), would thus get its hands on one of the most advanced low-orbit (450 km) satellite constellation projects: OneWeb has already placed on orbit 428 of the 648 satellites in its constellation. The British group is, for the moment, the only truly operational competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, which already has more than 2,600 satellites in orbit: the giant Amazon has not yet started launching the satellites of its Kuiper constellation, and the Canadian Telesat is still working on the financing of its Lightspeed project.

Why this operation? To understand, a small technical reminder is necessary. Eutelsat traditionally relies, for the broadcasting of television channels as well as for Internet connectivity, on large satellites located in geostationary orbit (36,000 km altitude). These have the advantage of remaining permanently above the same geographical area, unlike satellites in low orbit, which revolve at high speed around the Earth. These 5 to 6.5 tonne satellites have two other major advantages: their lifespan (15-20 years compared to 5-8 years for low orbit), and their power. The Konnect VHTS satellite, which is to be launched on September 6 by an Ariane 5 from Kourou, will thus be able to offer, on its own, broadband to half a million households.

Market estimated at 16 billion


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