OneWeb completes constellation of LEO satellites for global connectivity

OneWeb completes constellation of LEO satellites for global connectivity

Seen as a milestone to enable global connectivity, the successful 18th launch brings the constellation to a total of 618 satellites in orbit.

The company is now expecting to roll out connectivity services, with global coverage, by the end of the year, it announced:

“The OneWeb constellation design calls for 588 satellites for global coverage and additional satellites are planned for resiliency and redundancy. Thanks to today’s successful launch the constellation is in place to soon deliver global services. By the year-end, OneWeb will be ready to roll out global coverage, enhancing its existing connectivity solutions that are already live in regions north of 50-degrees latitude as it brings new areas online by partnering with leading providers.”

The launch took place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR) in Sriharikota, India on 26 March 2023. Signal acquisition on all 36 satellites was later confirmed, with the UK government among those taking interest.

“The completion of the LEO constellation is hugely significant both for OneWeb and the UK’s wider sector,” said the UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan. “We invested in OneWeb’s vision to bridge the global digital divide, and our burgeoning space sector is transforming the UK into the perfect base for like-minded companies to realise their stratospheric potential.”


Six months ago, the outlook was less positive for OneWeb after the Russians refused to return 36 OneWeb satellites waiting to be launched from the Baikonur spaceport. At the time, it had 428 satellites.

OneWeb cancelled the launches after Ukraine war broke out and first turned to SpaceX before then using NSIL to help complete the constellation.

OneWeb completes constellation of LEO satellites for global connectivity“In my work I have seen the power of connectivity to bring benefits to all, wherever they are,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, after the latest launch. “Yet half the world’s population does not have access to fast, reliable connectivity. Today’s launch represents a major step towards closing the digital divide. OneWeb’s global constellation will play a pivotal role in realising this dream.”

Launch cadence

At the beginning of 2021, OneWeb massively scaled back its original constellation plans, first reducing the planned size of its constellation, down from 47,884 to 6,372 satellites, and then eventually down to 648.

Recently, at the start of this month – with 542 satellites operational from 16 launches – it described its state of play. With launches 17 and 18 expected by the end of March, it said this represented a cadence of one launch per month, if you ignore two major pauses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Under the terms of Eutelsat acquiring OneWeb, the companies are to combine with OneWeb shareholders holding 50% of Eutelsat. The UK government, which had a 19.3% share in OneWeb before the merger, will retain rights over procurement, the location of the HQ and vetoing of customers on grounds of national security.

See also: Eutelsat’s board approves its merger with OneWeb