OneWeb’s broadband constellation reaching halfway mark

Space

TAMPA, Fla. — OneWeb is about halfway through deploying its low Earth orbit constellation, after Arianespace successfully launched another 34 satellites for the broadband operator Sept. 14.

The satellites launched on a Soyuz rocket at 2:07 p.m. Eastern from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, expanding OneWeb’s network to 322 satellites of a planned 648-strong constellation.

Arianespace said its tenth mission for OneWeb also lofted the 1000th satellite that the launch services provider has processed in its 41 years of operations. 

“This launch illustrates the recent acceleration in space operation — one third of these 1,000 Arianespace-launched satellites orbited over the 20 past months — and thus it is incumbent upon us, as leaders in the space sector, to embrace our responsibility to promote sustainable space operations,” Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said in a statement.

OneWeb plans to launch commercial services in the upper part of the Northern Hemisphere in 60-90 days, its executive chair Sunil Bharti Mittal said Sept. 8.

Mittal said the satellite operator is holding dozens of talks with distributors worldwide, as it prepares to deploy connectivity services for governments and businesses in maritime, aviation and other enterprise markets.

Hughes Network Systems, a OneWeb ground equipment supplier and investor, announced plans Sept. 9 to sell OneWeb capacity in the U.S. for enterprise customers, alongside another deal to provide multimarket solutions to rural and remote parts of India.

Those agreements came a day after OneWeb said AT&T will use its satellites to extend high-speed broadband services to areas outside the telco’s fiber footprint in the United States.

“We continue to see a huge and growing demand for our services from global customers, and we are incredibly excited about both introducing commercial service and scaling our global network,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said.

Arianespace plans to perform nine more Soyuz launches for OneWeb to deploy the remaining satellites in its constellation before the end of 2022.

Following the latest launch, Israël tweeted that Arianespace’s next mission for OneWeb is slated for Oct. 14 from Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia.

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