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Success for final batch of OneWeb satellites

March 27, 2023

By Chris Forrester

An Indian rocket successfully placed 36 OneWeb satellites into their transfer orbits on March 26th at 9.00am local time. The launch means there are now 618 OneWeb craft in orbit. OneWeb needs only 588 for global coverage. The remainders will act as ‘in orbit spares’ in case replacements are needed.

By the year-end, OneWeb will be ready to roll out global coverage, enhancing its existing connectivity solutions that are already live in regions north of 50-degrees latitude as it brings new areas online by partnering with leading providers.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said: “In my work I have seen the power of connectivity to bring benefits to all, wherever they are. Yet half the world’s population does not have access to fast, reliable connectivity. Today’s launch represents a major step towards closing the digital divide. OneWeb’s global constellation will play a pivotal role in realising this dream. I am particularly proud that OneWeb has crossed the threshold to be able to provide its global coverage in India, a country whose ambitions in enhancing Space-based connectivity are being driven by NewSpace India and ISRO. Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of India’s target to significantly expand access to high-speed internet connectivity is vital, and OneWeb is grateful for all the support. Overall, this is an incredibly exciting time for the satellite connectivity industry, and I am delighted that the UK and India are at the forefront of developments”.

“I would like to thank colleagues, our partners, vendors, investors and customers who have realised the potential of OneWeb and made this launch possible. I am incredibly excited for the future of OneWeb and the opportunity its connectivity services provide to communities globally,” Mittal added.

Neil Masterson, CEO at OneWeb, added: “This is the most significant milestone in the history of OneWeb, as we reach the satellites needed for global coverage. Over several years we have remained focused on our commitment to deliver a network that will provide connectivity for our customers and communities that need it most. With today’s satellite deployment, facilitated by our expert team and our partners at ISRO and NSIL, we are realising this central ambition and are even closer to changing lives at scale. I would like to pay tribute to all of my colleagues at OneWeb who have driven our rapid momentum and progress over recent years. It is thanks to them that we will be able to deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity around the world later this year”.

The rocket was a giant 43.5 metres tall LVM3-M3 version belonging to India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its commercial arm (NewSpace India Ltd). The rocket weighed 643 tonnes at launch. The mission launch took place from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

Following launch the official word was that the launch was nominal and that the five separate deployments, spread over 75 minutes, into their low Earth transfer orbits had gone well. After the launch, OneWeb in a tweet wrote, “We have lift off! Thanks to our colleagues at ISRO and NSIL-India for a successful launch.”

Network Access Associates Ltd, UK (a OneWeb Group Company) has signed an agreement with ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Ltd to launch 72 satellites into Low-Earth orbits (LEO). On October 23rd 2022 ISRO launched its first batch of 36 satellites for OneWeb. It was the first satellite deployment collaboration between the two organisations. The satellites will eventually orbit at 1,200 kms.

OneWeb, currently backed by India’s Bharti Enterprises and the UK government, is in the process of being merged with French satellite operator OneWeb.

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