Further batch of OneWeb satellites nears constellation to service

Further batch of OneWeb satellites nears constellation to service

This brings its total in-orbit constellation to 182 satellites, part of its intended 648 Low-Earth Orbit fleet for providing broadband connectivity services.

The satellites were dispensed in nine batches, over a period of 3 hours 52 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.

OneWeb maintains it is on schedule to cover 50 degrees latitude and above, by June, with service ready to start by the end of the year.

“These are exciting times at OneWeb as we get ever closer to bringing our connectivity services to some of the world’s hardest to reach places,” said OneWeb CEO, Neil Masterson. “With this third successful launch in our ‘Five to 50’ programme, we are rapidly building momentum: we are launching more satellites, demonstrating the network, and announcing more distribution signings around the globe.”

“We have a world class team and product, and alongside our supportive shareholders, OneWeb continues to work towards bringing connectivity to everyone, everywhere.”

The launch was by Arianespace and Glavkosmos, with a Soyuz-2.1b rocket, from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, which is in Russia, north east of Mongolia.

This is the third in a five-launch ‘Five to 50’ programme, says OneWeb. It will enable it to offer services across the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas and Canada, and will be switched on before the end of the year. OneWeb then intends to make global service available in 2022.

Constellation funding

Having been rescued from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, OneWeb has previously confirmed that the UK government and Bharti hold 42.3% stakes. Softbank – the former owner of Arm, of course, and also a previous investor in the company – has a reduced 12.3% stake.

Recent OneWeb funding news includes the company securing additional backing from SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems LLC, bringing OneWeb’s total funding to $1.4 billion, according to the company.

The company’s aim is to “deliver broadband connectivity worldwide to bridge the global Digital Divide by offering everyone, everywhere access including to the Internet of Things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G”.

See also: OneWeb massively scales back constellation plans