OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, has confirmed the successful launch of all 36 satellites by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. This launch, the second under new ownership, brings its total constellation in orbit to 146 satellites. These will be part of OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet, providing high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.
The launch took place on March 25 at 02:47 GMT. The satellite carrier with the OneWeb microsatellites separated from the launch vehicle as planned and all 36 OneWeb satellites were placed in orbit in nine batches over a period of 3 hours 51 minutes. A short time later, signal acquisition was confirmed on all 36 satellites.
This is the second launch in a five-start program that will enable OneWeb’s connectivity solution to reach all regions north of 50 degrees by mid-2021. The service is expected to launch by the end of the year, allowing OneWeb to connect millions of Northern Hemisphere consumers. These services will cover the UK, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Ocean and Canada and are expected to be launched before the end of the year. OneWeb intends to make the final build-out of the global service available by 2022.
The first launch of a rocket took place on February 27, 2019, putting 6 satellites into Earth orbit. To date, a total of 146 satellites have been placed at an altitude of 450 kilometres during 5 rocket launches. By the time of the final expansion in 2022, 13 more launches are to take place, during which 34-36 satellites will be released.
OneWeb resumed flights in December 2020 after exiting bankruptcy protection and investing $1 billion in shares held by a consortium of the British government and new Indian owners Bharti Enterprises.
Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Greg Wyler, OneWeb planned to launch about 650 satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide the universal Internet.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal