UK companies unite to build innovative beam-hopping satellite

A consortium of UK space technology companies is developing a new beam-hopping satellite that will enable satellites to shift which part of the world they cover.

This beam-hopping satellite will allow for managing real-time surges in commercial demand or responding to emergencies such as natural disasters.

This project, funded by the UK Space Agency through the European Space Agency’s Sunrise Programme, is led by OneWeb, a global satellite communications network.

Due to its beam-hopping capabilities, the satellite will be nicknamed ‘Joey-Sat’, and will be able to remotely navigate beams to enhance coverage in particular locations, like areas of high usage where the network is struggling to manage demand.

Amanda Solloway, Science Minister, explained: “From helping during a disaster to providing broadband on planes, this amazing technology will show how next-generation 5G connectivity can benefit all of us on Earth.

“It is fantastic to see some of our finest space tech companies joining forces on this exciting project which will put the UK at the forefront of satellite communications technology.”

The £32 million in new funding will build on the UK Space Agency’s prior investments in the Sunrise Programme and will see OneWeb joining forces with other UK companies, SatixFy, Celestia UK and Astroscale UK, in order to demonstrate the technology for its second-generation constellation of satellites.

Massimiliano Ladovaz, Chief Technical Officer at OneWeb, commented: “Innovation and collaboration are at the core of OneWeb. Working together with our partners, OneWeb will accelerate the development and expansion of our cutting-edge technologies and manufacturing capabilities for the benefit of communities, enterprise and governments around the world.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work with talented potential supply chain partners and we are delighted with the support from ESA and the UK Space Agency to bring continued innovation across the whole of OneWeb’s connectivity ecosystem.”

With the backing of the other UK companies, OneWeb is now beginning to develop the roadmap for its future generation constellation to be launch-ready for its Gen2 constellation in 2025.

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