STEM: Trip to Satellite Company OneWeb

We arrived at the offices at around 2.00pm and while we were immediately dazzled by the trendy building and control room, it was hearing from the engineers themselves that was the real highlight of our trip.

OneWeb is a global communications start-up, based in the UK, who are currently developing satellites with the aim of being able to provide satellite internet broadband services, to anyone, anywhere in the world. This is done through the revolutionary technology of setting up a satellite constellation, which will consist of over 600 smaller low orbit satellites. These are set to be completed in December this year and provide complete coverage to people whether on land, air, or sea.

It was fascinating hearing about the project from the engineers themselves, and in turn, we presented them with an update on how our own satellite projects were going. The LaunchUK Nanosat competition was launched this year by the UK, encouraging over 16’s to design a small satellite that would provide climate information to aid the UK government in tackling climate change. The winners will receive an impressive £600,000 prize fund to develop and build their satellite to launch from the UK’s spaceport in 2023.

CANSAT, on the other hand, is a more practical project, in which competitors must actually design and build a satellite the size of a drink can. This year, the mission objective is to build a satellite with sensors within to measure and provide real-time climate data when launched.

The engineers at OneWeb listened carefully and were a huge help, patiently answering our technical questions about satellite design and, being veteran CANSAT-ers themselves, offering advice on how to improve our design. As the company hires a huge number of employees straight from university, it was great to hear about their experience in entering engineering and how useful doing these competition experiences actually are for developing a career in STEM.

It was an immensely rewarding experience for us all, and while we were there, some of us even gave interviews about our trip, which will be included in a short company film at their very exciting launch in December.