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Updated on: Saturday, May 29, 2021, 12:02 PM IST

Bharti-backed OneWeb launches 36 satellites; to start commercial service by year-end

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Bharti group backed OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, on Friday (May 28) confirmed the next successful launch of 36 satellites by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. This launch brings OneWeb a step closer to completing its ‘Five to 50’ ambition and the start of commercial service by the end of the year, the company said in a statement.

This latest successful launch brings OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation to 218 satellites. These will form part of OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. There is now only one launch to go until the company has the satellites required to enable its connectivity solution to reach all regions north of 50 degrees latitude by June 2021.

The latest lift-off occurred on 28 May at 18:38 BST. OneWeb’s 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 launch represents the fourth in a five-launch programme to fulfil the ‘Five to 50’ service, enabling OneWeb to offer connectivity across the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, the Arctic Seas and Canada. This service is expected to be switched on before the end of the year and OneWeb intends to make global service available in 2022.

Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said: "Today’s successful launch is another execution milestone that puts us one launch away from delivering high speed, low latency connectivity to Alaska, Canada, Greenland, UK, and Northern Europe.”

OneWeb’s satellites are built by OneWeb Satellites, a OneWeb and Airbus joint venture facility on Merritt Island, Florida that can produce two satellites a day with an innovative production-line process. Thanks to this advanced manufacturing capability, OneWeb is able to rapidly and reliably build its first-generation fleet for completion of delivery into orbit by mid-2022. With this launch, our Florida team can be proud of the 220 satellites it has built and orbited to date.

OneWeb Satellites CEO James Hinds said, "Supporting OneWeb’s mission and constellation deployment is creating hundreds of highly skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs in the Space Coast, and we are excited to be a part of the progress made today, bringing us all one step closer to delivering global connectivity.”

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Published on: Saturday, May 29, 2021, 12:02 PM IST
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