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OneWeb plans weekend launch of 36 satellites from India

OneWeb Indian trailer.jpg

Satellite company OneWeb is hoping to resume its launch programme this weekend, using an Indian rocket for the first time.

London-based OneWeb ceased its launches in February when Russia invaded Ukraine. OneWeb, in which Indian group Bharti is the biggest shareholder, used launch sites in Russia and a Russian enclave in Kazakhstan.

OneWeb announced last month that a deal with NewSpace India (NSIL) meant it could restart launches, using the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the Bay of Bengal..

Now OneWeb and NSIL have confirmed that 36 satellites have been loaded into the housing for a planned launch this weekend – OneWeb’s 14th launch – and they have been trucked to the launch site (pictured).

The lift-off is scheduled for the early hours of Sunday morning Indian time, 19:37 UK time on Saturday evening, and 14:37 US eastern time Saturday afternoon. The launch will be shown live on YouTube.

Launch 14 will bring the OneWeb constellation to 462 satellites, the company said: more than 70% of the satellites required to reach global coverage.

“This milestone will activate a new phase of OneWeb’s launch programme, in pursuit of its mission to bridge the digital divide around the world. The company remains on track to activate global coverage in 2023 – with coverage solutions already live in regions north of 50° latitude.”

OneWeb’s original schedule, before the Russian war led to activities to be suspended, called for global service to be available before the end of 2022.

Eutelsat is expected to buy OneWeb early in 2023.