Bharti group backed OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company announced the successful launch of 36 satellites by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.
This latest launch brings OneWeb's total in-orbit constellation to 218 satellites. These will form part of OneWeb's 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity, said the company.
There is now only one launch to go until the company has the satellites required to enable its connectivity solution to reach all regions north of 50 degrees latitude by June 2021.
The latest lift-off occurred on 28 May at 18:38 BST. OneWeb's satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of 3 hours 52 minutes with the signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.
This launch represents the fourth in a five-launch programme to fulfil the ‘Five to 50' service, enabling OneWeb to offer connectivity across the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, the Arctic Seas and Canada. This service is expected to be switched on before the end of the year and OneWeb intends to make global service available in 2022.
Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said: “Today's successful launch is another execution milestone that puts us one launch away from delivering high speed, low latency connectivity to Alaska, Canada, Greenland, UK, and Northern Europe. Today we celebrate and thank our Florida team for their hard work and dedication that has delivered more than 200 satellites to orbit. Collaboration and teamwork are vital for OneWeb's mission to succeed.”
OneWeb's satellites are built by OneWeb Satellites, a OneWeb and Airbus joint venture facility on Merritt Island, Florida that can produce two satellites a day. Due to advanced manufacturing capability, OneWeb said it is able to rapidly and reliably build its first-generation fleet for completion of delivery into orbit by mid-2022.
OneWeb Satellites CEO James Hinds said: “With more than 200 satellites built in our factory, we are extremely proud of our team's high-quality and fast production of satellites. Supporting OneWeb's mission and constellation deployment is creating hundreds of highly skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs in the Space Coast, and we are excited to be a part of the progress made today, bringing us all one step closer to delivering global connectivity.”