Flight ST29, the first commercial mission from Vostochny Cosmodrome performed by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate, will put 36 of OneWeb’s satellites into a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 450 kilometers. After separation, the satellites will raise themselves to their operational orbit.
The first six OneWeb satellites were successfully orbited by Arianespace on Soyuz Flight VS21 from French Guiana on February 27, 2019. On February 7, 2020, Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate successfully launched 34 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Soyuz Flight ST27. On March 20, 2020, the team successfully delivered an additional 34 satellites into orbit on Soyuz Flight ST28.
OneWeb’s mission is to bring internet everywhere to everyone, by creating a global connectivity platform through a next generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit. OneWeb’s constellation will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity services to a wide range of customer sectors, including aviation, maritime, backhaul services, and for governments, emergency response services and more. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to everywhere where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.
Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, providing high-speed access globally – by air, sea and land.
OneWeb’s initial constellation is based on approximately 650 satellites as it grows to meet demand around the world. As OneWeb looks to the New Year, the company is focused on scaling the satellite constellation to begin commercial services starting at the end of 2021 to the UK, Alaska, Canada, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, and the Arctic Seas.
OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, where OneWeb Satellites is the constellation’s prime contractor. The satellites were built thanks to its leading-edge satellite manufacturing process that can build up to two satellites a day on a series production line dedicated to the assembly, integration, and testing of the satellites. The facility is running at full speed, within the coronavirus pandemic guidelines, manufacturing satellites that are tested and ready now, and also for future launches.
With the launch of 36 OneWeb satellites on Flight ST29, Arianespace will have orbited a total of 239 spacecraft from Airbus Defence and Space. The Arianespace backlog of payloads remaining to be launched for Airbus Defence and Space (excluding the remaining OneWeb satellites) counts 22 additional payloads.
RUAG Space AB (Linköping, Sweden) is the prime contractor in charge of development and production of the dispenser system used on Flight ST29. It will carry the satellites during their flight to low Earth orbit and then release them into space.
The dedicated dispenser is designed to accommodate up to 36 spacecraft per launch, allowing Arianespace to deliver the lion’s share of the initial OneWeb constellation in a timely manner.