On Wednesday, Port Canaveral hosted the official opening of a 24,000 square foot manufacturing facility for satellite supplier RUAG Space USA, a sign of the growing importance of the space business for a port that is best known for its cruises. RUAG’s new facility is in a leased space at the port’s logistics center in Titusville.
“Port Canaveral is committed to being a world-class gateway for commerce and an economic driver for Central Florida,” said port CEO Capt. John Murray. “We are proud to be partners with these leaders in space and communication technology and look forward to their growth.”
RUAG is a Swiss firm spacializing in aerospace components, and it will be building panels for the hundreds of satellites in the OneWeb broadband constellation. The production run is expected to be in the range of 900 satellites, and RUAG Space CEO Peter Guggenbach recently said that the facility at Port Canaveral will be producing enough panels for three satellites a day at peak output. OneWeb and Airbus will be building the majority of the satellite fleet at Exploration Park, a space-focused business complex located about 17 miles by road from the port.
The orders for RUAG could grow much larger: OneWeb Satellites CEO Brian Holz recently said that his firm would "produce over 2,000 satellites largely to be flown in LEO." OneWeb executive chairman Greg Wyler confirmed the possibility of a much larger fleet earlier this year. The production volume and the assembly-line manufacturing process required would be unprecedented in the satellite industry. OneWeb hopes to get production costs down to just $500,000 per satellite.
“OneWeb is building a new space based global infrastructure to bring low latency broadband to the four billion unconnected people around the world. We would not be able to accomplish this goal without the support of partners like RUAG Space. Together we are reinventing satellite manufacturing processes to support the world’s first high volume satellite manufacturing center," said Greg Wyler.