OneWeb, a broadband satellite internet service provider, is reportedly sourcing for components in Taiwan, following the footsteps of SpaceX. Partly owned by the UK government following its bankruptcy crisis in 2020, the company has just launched 36 OneWeb satellites in last December, brining the total number of its satellites in orbit to 394. The company aims to bring a total of 648 satellites into the orbit as a part of its first-generation constellation due to be completed this year (2022). Planning for a second-generation constellation has also begun this year.
In December 2021, Chris McLaughlin, OneWeb’s Chief of Government, Regulation and Engagement, revealed the company’s intention to produce its 2nd generation constellation in the UK, while OneWeb’s Chief Technology Officer, Massimiliano Ladovaz, claimed that the company would not only source solely from the UK, but from the “best in class everywhere.”
♦ Further reading – Beyond SpaceX: Why Taiwan’s space industry is attracting American VCs?
It turns out that OneWeb has already been in touch with Taiwanese suppliers of PFB and telecommunications equipment. So far, the following Taiwanese companies have been named as OneWeb suppliers: CyberTAN Technology, Universal Microwave Technology, Microelectronics Technology, Alpha Networks, Taiwan Union Technology Corp., Gold Circuit Electronics.
Some of these companies were recently included in the Taiwanese government’s subsidy program to enhance the domestic industry’s capability to design and manufacture satellite terminal products, especially subsystems.
SpaceX came to Taiwan in search of suppliers three years ago. According to Eric Lin, a managing partner of Infinio Capital who played a key role in bringing Taiwanese manufacture into SpaceX supply chain, Taiwan has the most complete and mature supply chain suitable for the space industry. Taiwan’s superb cost reduction ability, in addition, was one of the reasons driving SpaceX to outsource its ground equipment manufacturing to Taiwan.