Arianespace launching 36 OneWeb satellites
December 18, 2020
By Chris Forrester
Arianespace will use Russia’s ’Far East’ cosmodrome at Vostochny to launch 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit today (December 18th), at 12:26 GMT (21:26 Russia Vostochny time).
Arianespace is depending on a Soyuz rocket, often called the workhorse for the frequency of its use, for its Flight ST29, and the rocket was rolled out to its launch pad on December 17th. The mission is complex and will mean nine separation sequences for the satellite deployments.
The Soyuz rockets are more often used for flights to and from the International Space Station.
Flight ST29 at Vostochny Cosmodrome is a joint mission of Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate. It will be the 29th Arianespace/Starsem flight overall since the initial “ST” mission in September 1999, and is the first such Arianespace/Starsem operation performed at a site other than Baikonur Cosmodrome.
The 36 constellation satellites to be deployed on Flight ST29 for OneWeb are installed on a dispenser system that will release these spacecraft during nine separation sequences – with a total mission duration of just under 3 hours, 52 minutes for Soyuz and its Fregat upper stage.
OneWeb’s custom dispenser system will deploy the satellites after the Fregat brings them to a 450 km orbit inclined 87.4 degrees to the equator. Thereafter the satellite will be raised to their operational orbits at 1200 kms.
The UK government along with India’s Bharti Global are the major shareholders in OneWeb.