France-based Airbus seeks to participate in U.S. military space technology development projects through the establishment of a Florida-based satellite assembly line scheduled to be operational this fall, SpaceNews reported Friday.
Airbus’s joint venture with satellite broadband company OneWeb established the facility with the goal to produce at least 900 spacecraft designed to operate in low Earth orbit.
The OneWeb Satellites JV is among satellite manufacturers that eye the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Blackjack program, which aims to demonstrate the military applications of global LEO constellation.
DARPA looks to purchase commercial satellite buses and adjoin them with military sensors and payloads, providing mass manufacturers like Airbus and SpaceX — which also plans on setting up a massive LEO constellation — an avenue to compete.
The agency is scheduled to award $117.5 million in contracts over three phases to as much as eight bus and payload suppliers, with the first awards expected to come in as early as August.