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OneWeb ready for next launch of 36 satellites on Monday

OneWeb Soyuz rocket April 2021.jpg

French launch company Arianespace plans to launch another 36 communications satellites for OneWeb next Monday evening.

If successful, flight ST31 will bring the total number of satellites OneWeb has in orbit to 182, moving the Indian-UK company a step closer to service launch later this year. 

OneWeb Satellites, the manufacturing arm of the operation, has already shipped the satellites from its factory in Florida to Russia’s Vostochny cosmodrome, from which they will be launched on a Russian-designed Soyuz rocket (pictured). OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between the main OneWeb company and Airbus, one of the original shareholders in the venture.

OneWeb is owned by Indian grouop Bharti Industries and the UK government, which have each invested US$500 million, with a smaller investment by SoftBank. 

The launch is planned for 22:14 UTC on Monday (18:14 EDT). In Vostochny, which is close to the Chinese border, the time will be 07:14 on Tuesday. The launch will be shown live on YouTube

The satellites will be placed into a near-polar orbit at a height of 450km above the Earth’s surface. The previous launch was in late March. 

OneWeb says its mission is “to bring internet everywhere to everyone, by creating a global connectivity platform through a next generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit”.

Customers will have terminals that will provide Wifi, 3G, 4G and 5G service in their immediate area. The initial service will cover from 50° north latitude to the Arctic this year, with global service by the middle of 2022.