Internet for the Arctic back on track | Polarjournal
Picture of one of OneWeb’s F6 satellites. (OneWeb)

Satellite operator OneWeb filed for bankruptcy at the end of March 2020 after 74 satellites had been launched and about half of its 44 ground stations completed. Now the company has been saved by the British government and India’s Bharti Group. This means that nothing stands in the way of a relaunch with Arianespace in December 2020, paving the way for the start of commercial services next year.

An Ariane 6 space rocket will simultaneously launch 36 OneWeb small satellites into orbit next December. (Photo: Ariane Group)

With the return to Arianespace’s first flight into orbit, the OneWeb fleet in orbit will be increased to 110 satellites. According to a press release, another 15 launches are to take place under an agreement with Arianespace.

Commercial broadband and other communications services are planned in the UK, Alaska, northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Ocean and Canada by the end of 2021.

Each OneWeb satellite weighs 150 kilograms. The final expansion of 648 operational satellites will be deployed in 18 polar Earth orbits at an altitude of 1,200 km. (OneWeb)

The agreement is subject to confirmation of the company’s restructuring plan, which resulted in the UK and Bharti being the winning bidders in a bankruptcy sale in July 2020.

The two companies have pledged to invest a total of 1 billion dollars in OneWeb, with the goal of creating a competitor to SpaceX from Elon Musk in the race to use satellites in near-Earth orbit for communications services.

US satellite broadband provider Hughes Network Systems joined the OneWeb constellation and agreed to invest USD 50 million.

OneWeb antennas in Svalbard, Norway. The ground stations are part of the OneWeb network and are set up worldwide to connect the satellites to the Internet. Around 44 stations are planned for the final expansion worldwide. (Photo: OneWeb)

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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