OneWeb launched 36 additional broadband internet satellites aboard a GSLV Mark 3 launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India. The rocket is dubbed as one of the heaviest for its ability to carry satellites up to 8,000 kgs. OneWeb is building a communications network with a constellation of low-Earth-orbit satellites that will deliver internet access around the world.
This launch brought OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation to 462 satellites, which represents more than 70% of its planned 648 low Earth orbit satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity worldwide. OneWeb will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in the hardest-to-reach areas, thus playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide.
As a key supplier to OneWeb’s manufacturing factory, Airbus OneWeb Satellites, Beyond Gravity built the satellite dispenser, which placed all OneWeb satellites into orbit. The dispenser functions as an interface between the Indian rocket and 36 OneWeb satellites. “Our dispenser is super-light and includes state-of-the-art technology to safely place the satellites in orbit,” says Paul Horstink, Executive Vice President Division Launchers at Beyond Gravity. “Thanks to Beyond Gravity’s flexible dispenser design only a minor adaptation has been required to make this compatible to fly on the Indian rocket.” OneWeb used the Indian rocket for the first time, previously, OneWeb used Arianespace and Sojuz rockets.
Airbus OneWeb Satellites — a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus — is OneWeb’s industrial partner and leads the design and manufacturing of OneWeb’s fleet of satellites. The Beyond Gravity dispensers for OneWeb are built in Linköping, Sweden. Each dispenser has a 1.7 meter central cylinder structure and a height of 5.5 meters.
Beyond Gravity also manufactured the OneWeb satellite back-bone (structure) in Titusville, Florida. The structures are manufactured using the Automated Potting Process, a production method that uses a pick and place machine to rapidly position special inserts filled with adhesive into the satellite structure’s sandwich panels.
In Austria, Beyond Gravity produced the multi-layer thermal insulation which protects the OneWeb satellites against the cold and heat in space from approx. minus 150°C to plus 150°C (-238 degrees F to 302 degrees F). The insulation consists of several layers of metal-evaporated polyimide film. Beyond Gravity in Austria also built handle equipment and transport containers. “Our high-tech, custom satellite containers are used to transport the assembled OneWeb satellites from Florida to the launch sites,” explains Anders Linder, Executive Vice President Division Satellites at Beyond Gravity. The containers are equipped with a specifically designed damping system and climate-control.