Performed by Arianespace on Sunday, August 22, 2021, at precisely 3:13 a.m. local time at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome (10:13 p.m. UTC on August 21), Soyuz Flight ST34 lifted-off, with 34 OneWeb satellites onboard. After the successful deployment if the smallsats, the size of the fleet on-orbit has now increased to 288 in number.
Flight ST34 was the 59th Soyuz mission carried out by Arianespace and their Starsem affiliate. The mission lasted three hours and 45 minutes.
The 34 satellites have been separated, during nine separation sequences, at an altitude of 450 km. This was also the third successful launch operated by Arianespace’s teams in less than one month.
To date, Arianespace has launched 288 OneWeb satellites with nine Soyuz launches. Arianespace will perform 10 more Soyuz launches for OneWeb through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of their full global constellation of LEO satellites before the end of 2022.
OneWeb’s mission is to create a global connectivity platform through a next-generation satellite constellation in LEO. This constellation will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity to a wide range of customer sectors, including aviation, maritime, enterprise and government. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to the hardest to reach places, where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide. The satellite prime contractor is OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space. The satellites were produced in Florida, USA, in the company’s satellite manufacturing facilities that can build as many as two satellites per day on a series production line that is dedicated to spacecraft assembly, integration and testing.
The launch of the satellites was operated by Arianespace and its Euro-Russian affiliate Starsem under contract with Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. Arianespace is responsible for the overall mission and flight-worthiness, with the support of Starsem for launch campaign activities, including management of their own launch facilities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
RKTs-Progress (the Samara Space Center) is responsible for the design, development, manufacture and integration of the Soyuz launch vehicle as well as for the 3-stage Soyuz flight. NPO Lavotchkin is responsible for the launch preparation operations and flight of the Fregat orbital vehicle.
“Congratulations to all the teams who made this ninth launch dedicated to OneWeb’s satellites a success,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “Every single mission is special, but ST34 is the demonstration of our ability, no matter when or where, to deliver the best possible service! We operated three successful launches from two continents in precisely 23 days -less than one month-, with three different launchers, Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz. Any time, any mass, any orbit: this is once again what we achieved to the benefit of our customers.”