First OneWeb satellite launched by Arianespace
As the opening launch, flight VS21 paves the way for the deployment phase of its initial constellation, for which Arianespace is to operate 20 more medium-lift Soyuz launches from three spaceports (Kourou in French Guiana, Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Vostochny in Russia) through 2020.
This constellation of satellites forms part of a mission to provide internet access to everyone around the world.
The launch took place on 27 February from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana (South America).
Placed in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 1000 km, the constellation will provide high-speed, low-latency services to a wide range of markets, including aviation, maritime, backhaul services, community Wi-Fi, emergency response services and more, delivering high-speed access around the world by air, sea and land. OneWeb Satellites — a joint-venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space — is the constellation’s prime contractor.
OneWeb’s initial constellation will be composed of approximately 650 satellites and could expand to more than 900 as it grows to meet demand around the world. Commercial services are scheduled to begin in 2021.
With its current family of launchers (Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega) and the future family (Ariane 6 and Vega C), Arianespace is well positioned for the growth market of satellite constellations — including for navigation, telecommunications or Earth observation.
Since the early 1990s, Arianespace has launched a total of 83 commercial constellation satellites — composed of 56 satellites for Globalstar, 16 for O3b, six for OneWeb, four for Planet and one for Orbcomm — as well as 26 institutional constellation satellites for the European Space Agency ESA and the European Commission as part of the Galileo program.
“By deploying the OneWeb constellation, Arianespace also accomplishes its mission: ‘Using space for a better life on Earth’ when participating in the build-up of a global communications network that will bridge the digital divide,” said Stéphane Israël, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer.
“The success of this first flight marks the go-ahead of 20 more Soyuz launches contracted by OneWeb in 2015, representing more than 600 satellites to be orbited in less than two years.”
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