OneWeb prepares for penultimate launch from Indian site

OneWeb prepares for penultimate launch from Indian site

OneWeb launch 14.jpg

OneWeb has integrated 36 satellites into an Indian rocket ready for its penultimate launch, expected in the next few days.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) will launch the 36 satellites, all built in Florida, in the next few days.

After this, OneWeb has one further launch for its first generation of satellites, by SpaceX later this year.

OneWeb CTO Massimiliano Ladovaz said 36 satellites were transported to Chennai from Florida via an Antonov-124 cargo aircraft. From Chennai they were taken by road the Spaceport Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

They were then due for tests – but the fact that ISRO/NSIL have already mounted them on the LVM3 rocket means the tests were successful. Neither OneWeb nor IRSO/NSIL have confirmed the date for what will be OneWeb’s 18th launch.

After the final, 19th, launch, OneWeb will at last have its full complement of 648 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites in service, just a year late – the delay being due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022. When Putin’s army invaded, OneWeb had 36 satellites mounted on a Soyuz rocket in Baikonur, ready for launch by Roscosmos.

But the launch was cancelled and Roscosmos removed the satellites from the top of the rocket. OneWeb has had to make 36 new satellites to replace those confiscated from Baikonur.

OneWeb is in the process of merging with Paris-based Eutelsat, a move that is likely to result in a rethink of the strategy for what was to be its second generation of satellites.

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