Arianespace is responsible for this launch and has contracts in place for about 20 further launches in order to place an initial 672 satellites into Low Earth orbit. Other launches will take place from Baikonur as well as French Guiana and Russia’s Vostochny spaceports.
This particular launch has been delayed three times with Roscosmos (responsible for ground handling and facilities at Baikonur) complaining that satellites were not ready on time. That anxiety is now firmly in the past. A blog from OneWeb’s founder Greg Wyler last week confirmed that OneWeb’s joint-venture and highly automated factory with
Airbus in Florida is now turning out 2 satellites a day.Wyler is wisely anticipating a few orbital failures, and the total to be launched over time is nearer 900 satellites. OneWeb’s initial target was to produce 15 satellites per week, and thus amortise the individual production cost per satellite. A rate of two craft per week is excellent news not just for the OneWeb/Airbus team in Florida but for the overall economics of satellite building.
Two a day – even for a 5-day week – would mean an easy 400+ satellites this year. At Wyler’s 15 satellites a week, and highly likely with typical workflow efficiencies, that could mean around 700 satellites this year allowing for holiday shutdowns. In other words, Wyler could well have his mega-constellation flying this year.