Getting back to their original plans are Arianespace and OneWeb which will resume launch operations to continue the deployment of the OneWeb constellation.
According to the amended launch contract with OneWeb, the London-based communications company, Arianespace will perform 16 more Soyuz launches from three spaceports (Kourou, Baikonur and Vostochny) beginning in late 2020 and continuing through 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites by the end of 2022. The next Soyuz launch is planned as soon as December 2020 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 satellites on board.
“I am delighted that we are back on track to support the deployment of the OneWeb constellation and the company’s mission to bridge the digital divide at a global scale,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “Our teams already are working hard to ensure a smooth and quick restart of the launch campaigns by year-end 2020.”
Arianespace has launched 74 OneWeb satellites to date. The initial six were successfully orbited by Soyuz Flight VS21 from French Guiana on February, 2019. In February and March, 2020, Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate successfully launched 68 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur on Soyuz Flights ST27 and ST28.
OneWeb’s goal is to deliver global connectivity from a network of 650 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that will provide high-bandwidth, low latency communication services to regions previously unconnected.
In addition to the satellites, OneWeb’s global network will include gateway stations located around the world, and a range of user terminals will provide connectivity services for fixed and mobile communications. These terminals will be compatible with the future needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G.
OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, is the constellation’s prime contractor. The OneWeb satellites are built in OneWeb Satellites’ Florida-based series production line that is dedicated to the assembly, integration, and test of OneWeb’s satellites.