Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company OneWeb has expanded its in-orbit constellation to 182 satellites, following the successful launch of 36 satellites by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.
Lift-off occurred on 26 April 2021 at 23:14 BST. OneWeb’s satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of three hours and 52 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.
The 182 satellites now in orbit will form part of the 648 LEO satellite fleet, designed to deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity, including for commercial inflight applications. They represent 60% of the constellation required to enable OneWeb’s connectivity solution to reach all regions north of 50° latitude by June 2021.
The latest launch is the third in the five-launch ‘Five to 50’ programme, whereby OneWeb plans to switch on services across the UK, Alaska, northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Artic seas and Canada before the end of 2021. OneWeb then intends to make global service available in 2022.
“These are exciting times at OneWeb as we get ever closer to bringing our connectivity services to some of the world’s hardest-to-reach places,” said Neil Masterson, CEO at OneWeb. “With this third successful launch in our Five to 50 programme, we are rapidly building momentum: we are launching more satellites, demonstrating the network and announcing more distribution signings around the globe. We have a world-class team and product, and alongside our supportive shareholders, OneWeb continues to work towards bringing connectivity to everyone, everywhere.”
“This is a great milestone for OneWeb as we advance to realise our long-held ambitions for OneWeb Aviation,” said Ben Griffin, vice president of mobility at OneWeb. “Airline start-ups and established carriers who currently don’t have IFE are exploring options as they build after the pandemic. The interest we are garnering is remarkable.”