On Friday, May 28, 2021, OneWeb launched 36 satellites to bring the company one step closer to completing their commercial service by the end of the year — this was OneWeb’s seventh overall launch and the fourth in a five-launch program to fulfill the company’s ‘Five to 50’ service,.
The satellites are manufactured by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space, based in Space Coast, Florida.
The venture developed a production line process for manufacturing the satellites that dramatically lowers costs and also significantly accelerates output.
With two production lines in their Florida factory, each line can build one satellite in a single eight-hour shift, allowing OneWeb Satellites to produce satellites at a scale that will enable OneWeb to rapidly build out its full constellation. OneWeb Satellites employs more than 180 people in Florida and is on track to have a headcount of 200 at the Merritt Island facility on the Space Coast by the end of the year. OneWeb has now increased their satellite constellation to more than 200 spacecraft.
This latest launch adds 36 satellites to OneWeb’s constellation as the company works to complete their 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. This launch placed the smallsats in their designated orbits and represents 80 percent of the constellation required to enable the firm’s connectivity solution to reach all regions north of 50 degrees latitude by June of 2021.
OneWeb plans to offer connectivity across the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas and Canada. Their service is expected to be switched on before the end of the year and OneWeb intends to make global service available in 2022.
The launch occurred from the Vostochny Cosmodrome and was be conducted by Arianespace. This was the 57th Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and their Starsem affiliate.
By operating this flight on behalf of OneWeb, Arianespace continues their record of fulfilling their customer’s ultimate ambition, that being to provide internet access for everyone, everywhere, all the time.