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Kuiper, OneWeb agree on orbital debris

June 27, 2022

OneWeb already has some two-thirds of its 648 broadband constellation in orbit while Amazon’s Kuiper has yet to start launching its initial fleet of 3,236 satellites. Elon Musk’s Starlink has launched 2,706 craft into their target low Earth orbits.

Some of the Starlinks have failed but OneWeb and Kuiper have agreed a set of planned measures to limit orbital debris. Their agreements cover the sharing of satellite positions, reporting in-orbit problems and data and to be cognisant of potential astronomical light pollution.

Speaking at the London Space Sustainability Summit, organised by the UK Space Agency, Kuiper and OneWeb confirmed that current goodwill in place between the two operators would ensure that their orbital fleets could be operated safely.

Maurizio Vanotti, OneWeb’s VP/space infrastructure and partnerships, reportedly said relations between OneWeb and the SpaceX Starlink constellation are so good that governments should pause before enacting new regulations.

OneWeb has created a magnetic docking plate to make in-orbit rescue or recovery easier on its Batch 3 versions of its satellites and has contracted with Astroscale to create a debris removal system which is slated to be tested around 2026.

Vanotti also told delegates that it would re-start launching its satellites later this year (in Q4) with the constellation fully in place by Q2/2023. He said that a global service would be in place by the end of 2023.

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