OneWeb, the proposed super-constellation of 600 satellites, has surprised the market by dramatically cutting back on its planned launch of 10 satellites next month.
Founder Greg Wyler now says that only 6 craft will be launched. Wyler, in a Tweet, says: “We built 10 in the factory per our plan and are launching 6. These are production satellites so they will climb to our polar orbit of 1200km and be the first of the constellation. We built 10, but decided to launch 6 and keep 4 as ground spares (so many things can still go wrong!).”
Initially, Wyler’s launch plans called for delivery into orbit by mid-2018, although it seemed the production out of the Airbus plant at Toulouse was much slower than anticipated. Keeping 4 in reserve in case of a catastrophe or anomaly during or after launch could be seen as being ultra-prudent, but Wyler and his team at Airbus are targeting launching 300 satellites this year so the slippage is not too serious.