OneWeb to restart launches, ahead of commercial service in 2021
OneWeb is to re-start satellite launched in December and plans to have most of its fleet in service by the end of 2022.
The company, which is being rescued from bankruptcy by the UK government and Indian telecoms operator Bharti Global, has signed a contract with French launcher company Arianespace.
OneWeb says it plans to commence commercial services by the end of 2021, before the full fleet is in orbit. Initial regions will include the UK, Alaska, northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic seas and Canada.
Arianespace will put OneWeb’s satellites into orbit in 16 separate launches, with 34 to 36 satellites each time.
OneWeb already had 74 satellites in orbit when it went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and the December launch will increase this to 110.
In a sign of how international the commercial launch business has become, Arianespace will use the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia for the December 2020 launch, which will be on a Russian-developed Soyuz rocket.
Later launches will also use Baikonur in a Russian enclave in Kazakhstan and Arianespace’s home base in Kourou in French Guiana in South America.
The launch contract is subject to approval of OneWeb’s rescue from bankruptcy. OneWeb said it “anticipates the closing of the planned sale of the company in Q4 2020, subject to confirmation and consummation of OneWeb’s restructuring plan, court approval and regulatory consents”.