On 26 April, OneWeb, a UK-based Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, reported the successful launch, and contact, of all 36 satellites in its latest launch programme. The satellites were launched by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East. The satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of 3 hours 52 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.
This latest launch brings OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation to a new total of 182 satellites, representing 60% of the constellation required to enable its low-latency connectivity network to reach all regions north of 50 degrees latitude by June 2021.
A further two launches are due in this is the company’s five-launch ‘Five to 50’ programme, which when complete will enable OneWeb to offer services across the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Artic Seas and Canada, and will be activated before the end of 2021. OneWeb then intends to make global service available in 2022, including inflight connectivity services for commercial airlines.
Ben Griffin, OneWeb’s VP for mobility commented, “This is a great milestone for OneWeb as we advance to realise our long-held ambitions for OneWeb Aviation. 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.”