There are currently 394 such platforms in orbit for the OneWeb constellation with a further 254 under production.
The contract signals start-up Loft Orbital’s intention of implementing the Airbus Arrow service business model. Loft Orbital offers end-to-end payload deployment and operation services on reliable, high-performance satellites. The company contracted Airbus to modify the existing platform to be fitting for a wider range and longer lifetime missions.
The engineering, qualification, testing, and production of the first few spacecraft will take place in Toulouse, Airbus and Loft Orbital said. The production at scale of the Arrow-derived platforms will be performed by Airbus OneWeb Satellites. Loft Orbital has offices both in the USA and in Toulouse, France.
The contract demonstrates “the uptake of New Space companies in France and the synergy across the space ecosystem for developing industry wide innovation,” the French minister for Economy, Finances and Recovery, Bruno Le Maire, said. The project relies on French suppliers with more than 60% of the value being created in France, he added.
Airbus previously benefitted from public support to develop the Arrow platform and OneWeb pilot line in Toulouse and continues to seek further cooperation with space ecosystem newcomers, to ensure sustainability and reliability in LEO, the company said.