OneWeb success; 146 satellites now orbiting
March 25, 2021
By Chris Forrester
An Arianespace rocket used the Russian Vostochny Cosmodrome to successfully place 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit on March 25th at 2.47pm GMT.
The satellites were released in groups of 4 which took over four hours and deployed the craft in their near-polar orbits at 450 kms above ground.
The launch brings the number of OneWeb satellites in orbit to 146, and OneWeb says this was the second of five launches that will enable OneWeb to deliver connectivity services north of 50 degrees latitude by the end of this year.
These initial regional services will begin in UK, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas, and Canada with global service becoming available in 2022.
OneWeb has a way to go, however, with it needing 648 satellites in orbit to provide global coverage. The company says that its Florida satellite production line is now back to full operation (where it is in a joint-venture with Airbus).
OneWeb says it continues hiring at a fast pace with over 200 employees joining since the autumn. The company is continuing to build its global ground station network and is pushing forward on user terminal development including a $73 million contract with Intellian to provide compact, affordable user terminals for enterprise and government applications as well as a contract with Satixfy for an in-flight terminal to deliver Wifi on planes.
In January 2021 OneWeb filed a formal request with the Federal Communications Commission to expand its fleet to a planned 6732 satellites.