OneWeb, a UK based satellite communication service provider, has launched 36 new OneWeb internet satellites from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome on Thursday, October 14, accelerating the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) communications provider past the halfway mark to completing its growing mega constellation.
Bharti Group-led OneWeb had previously revealed that it had only 322 satellites in space so far. After the launch of new internet satellites, it takes OneWeb’s tally of its in-orbit constellation to 358, expediting its plans to build a complete 648 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband globally.
The OneWeb satellites rose into space atop a Russian-built Soyuz rocket from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, a Russian spaceport, in a mission operated by French company Arianespace. The satellite liftoff occurred at 0940 GMT.
The spacecraft will deploy from the Soyuz rocket in four satellite batches into a near-polar orbit with an altitude of 450 kilometres. The entire process is expected to take 3 hours and 51 minutes after liftoff. The solar-powered satellites will then make their own way to their operational orbit, which lies 1,200 km above Earth.
“Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, providing high-speed access globally — by air, sea and land,” Arianespace representatives noted in the mission description.
OneWeb endeavours to start rendering such service to the global north by the end of this year, with full global coverage expected to follow in 2022 with the launch of more satellites over the next weeks and months
In a statement released by the company later, it revealed that with the launch, OneWeb has begun the service demonstrations to showcase the network’s hardware and capabilities across a diverse line-up of appliances.
At the moment, OneWeb has demo centres operating at the company’s headquarters in London and at the Westcott Venture Park Innovation Centre in Buckinghamshire, as well as in Talkeetna, Alaska and Germantown, Maryland in the US.