OneWeb launch sees commercial service in 2021
OneWeb has launched 36 satellites into low earth orbit (LEO), opening up its commercial service next year.
The launch on a Soyuz rocket from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia follows the recovery from bankruptcy earlier in the year in a $1bn deal with the UK government and Bharti Enterprises of India.
There are now 110 of the satellites, built by Airbus, in orbit as part of a plan for 648 satellites. 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.
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OneWeb says this puts it on track to offer global services to customers starting with the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Artic Seas, and Canada in 2021 with global service following in 2022.
“It’s inspiring to be part of a fast-returning organisation refocused on our mission of bringing connectivity to everyone, everywhere. Each launch moves us closer to our goal of building this much needed global, secure, trusted, enterprise-grade broadband network, powered from space. We look forward to offering our commercial services to global users,” said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb.
Next: Oneweb competition for broadband service
“Today’s launch is one of many steps we have taken to operationalise one of the world’s first LEO constellations which clearly demonstrates we are on our way to achieving our mission,” said said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises.
“Overall, there is an overwhelming demand for broadband and the pandemic has taxed infrastructure everywhere and many people worldwide are left with little to no options to access the internet. OneWeb’s system will help meet existing and future demand by delivering broadband connectivity to communities, towns, and regions left unconnected or under-connected.”
OneWeb is competing with SpaceX to provide broadband from a LEO constellation of 1000 satellites and also plans to start operations in early 2021. Amazon’s Kepler network is also planning a constellation but has yet to launch any satellites.
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