OneWeb’s first major cluster of 34 satellites have been integrated on top of the Soyuz ST-B/Fregat-M rocket at Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and ready for launch on February 7th, weather permitting.
OneWeb place 6 test satellites into orbit on February 27th 2019 (although they were launched from Kourou by Arianespace in French Guiana).
This upcoming launch is an Arianespace-managed event even though it is taking place in Kazakhstan. OneWeb has contracted with Arianespace for another 20 Soyuz launches which at 34 satellites per launch is more than enough to populate OneWeb’s system.
This debut batch of 34 will be the first of what is expected to be extremely regular launches to build up OneWeb’s mega-constellation of 600+ satellites. Last year Tom Enders, then CEO at Airbus and which is in a joint-venture with OneWeb to build the operator’s satellites at Exploration Park, Florida, talked about having 350-400 satellites built this year.
OneWeb is on record as saying that it is already building 2 satellites a day from its all new facility in Florida and is targeting building 15 per week.
OneWeb is backed by Japanese media investment giant SoftBank as well as Groupo Salinas, Qualcomm and the Government of Rwanda amongst others.