OneWeb Launches 36 LEO satellites, 254 in orbit, funding deals & UK coverage too!

OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, announced the successful launch of another 36 satellites to mark the completion of its ‘Five to 50’ mission.

The latest launch takes OneWeb’s in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites, or 40% of OneWeb’s planned fleet of 648 LEO satellites that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. OneWeb intends to make global service available in 2022.

With this major milestone, the company is ready to deliver connectivity across the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region.  Commercial satellite Internet service should be rolled out by the end of 2021 with a global service following next year, the company said.

Service demonstrations will begin this summer in several key locations – including Alaska and Canada – as OneWeb prepares for commercial service in the next six months. Offering enterprise-grade connectivity services, the Company has already announced distribution partnerships across several industries and businesses including with BT, ROCK Network, AST Group, PDI, Alaska Communications and others, as OneWeb expands its global capabilities.

The company continues to engage with telecommunications providers, ISPs, and governments worldwide to offer its low-latency, high-speed connectivity services and sees growing demand for new solutions to connect the hardest to reach places.

The launch of the latest 36 satellites was conducted by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrom. Liftoff occurred on 1 July at 13:48 BST. OneWeb’s satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in 9 batches over a period of 3 hours 52 minutes with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.

Image Source: Source: Roscosmos, Space-Center-Vostochny and TsENKi

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The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson, MP, said: “This latest launch of OneWeb satellites will put high-speed broadband within reach of the whole Northern Hemisphere later this year, including improving connectivity in the remotest parts of the UK.

“Backed by the British Government, OneWeb proves what is possible when public and private investment come together, putting the UK at the forefront of the latest technologies, opening up new markets, and ultimately transforming the lives of people around the world.”

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said: “Today’s momentous milestone demonstrates that OneWeb is now a leader in LEO broadband connectivity, serving a wide range of stakeholders across the Northern Hemisphere. This fifth launch amid the unprecedented global pandemic is truly remarkable and I congratulate the management team and fellow shareholders on the success.

“Bharti’s doubling of its investment earlier this week is testament to the commitment to OneWeb’s mission. We now look forward to the next chapter in OneWeb’s story, preparing the company for commercial service in the less than six months to deliver our global connectivity solutions to communities around the world.”

The Rt. Hon. Kwasi Kwarteng, MP, Secretary of State, BEIS, added: “Today’s launch is an exciting milestone in providing some of the world’s most remote locations with fast, UK-backed broadband less than a year since British government investment made this possible. With yet another successful mission, the people of the UK can be proud that this country is at the heart of the latest advances in small satellite technology.

“OneWeb’s coverage across the Northern Hemisphere now puts the United Kingdom at the forefront of the latest developments in Low Earth Orbit technology, and we will capitalise on the company’s unique position within this growing market to build a strong domestic space industry and cement our status as a global science and technology superpower.”

Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said: “This is a truly historic moment for OneWeb, the culmination of months of positive momentum in our ‘Five to 50’ programme, increased investment from our global partners and the rapid onboarding of new customers. We are incredibly excited to start delivering high-speed, low-latency connectivity first to the UK and the Arctic region and to see our network scale over the coming months as we continue building to global service. Thanks to all our incredible partners who have been with us on this journey and are instrumental to making OneWeb’s mission a success.”

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Funding Deals:

OneWeb resumed satellite launches in December 2020 after emerging from bankruptcy protection with $1 billion in equity investment from a consortium of the British government and India’s Bharti Enterprises.  It has also received investment from Japan’s Softbank and Eutelsat Communications, and further financing from Bharti. OneWeb said on Tuesday it was fully-funded and had secured $2.4 billion in total.

Earlier this week, OneWeb secured another $500 million in funding, bringing its total funding to $2.4 billion. This new cash injection came from Bharti under a Call Option agreement and is expected to be completed in the second half of this year.  According to the BBC, the funding will see Bharti take a 39% stake in OneWeb, making it the company’s biggest shareholder. The UK government, Eutelsat and SoftBank will each own 19.3% of the firm.

“In just a year and during a global pandemic, together we have transformed OneWeb, bringing the operation back to full-scale,” said Bharti Global’s managing director Shravin Mittal. “With this round of financing, we complete the funding requirements.”

The funding announcement came on the heels of news that OneWeb had struck a deal with BT as the UK incumbent operator looks to improve its coverage of more remote areas.

References:

https://www.oneweb.world/media-center/oneweb-completes-its-five-to-50-mission

https://www.reuters.com/technology/oneweb-launches-satellites-roll-out-northern-internet-service-2021-07-01/

https://www.lightreading.com/satellite/oneweb-new-chapter-with-northern-hemisphere-push/d/d-id/770647?

Webcast playback Launch highlights available View on OneWeb YouTube

Launch Imagery Launch #8 Media Kit

Launch Partner Arianespace and Glavkosmos

Launch Facility Soyuz Launch Complex, Vostochny Cosmodrome

OneWeb receives investment from Eutelsat Communications; LEO satellite constellation for global internet service

2 thoughts on “OneWeb Launches 36 LEO satellites, 254 in orbit, funding deals & UK coverage too!

  1. The company plans to launch 648 satellites through next year to fill out its first-generation fleet providing low-latency internet services.

    OneWeb’s satellites were fastened inside the nose cone of the Soyuz-2.1b rocket for launch Thursday. A Fregat upper stage mounted on top of the Soyuz rocket completed the task of placing the OneWeb spacecraft into orbit.

    Each OneWeb satellite is about the side of a mini-fridge. The spacecraft are built by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus, in a factory just outside the gate of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    The OneWeb satellites beam broadband internet signals to users on the ground, at sea, or in the air, providing high-speed, low-latency connectivity for consumers, large companies, and governments. OneWeb is competing with SpaceX’s Starlink network, along with planned internet constellations from other companies.

    With the satellites launched Thursday, London-based OneWeb will have enough satellites to provide internet services to customers north of 50 degrees latitude. That will take a few months as the new spacecraft go through post-launch testing and orbit-raising.

    https://spaceflightnow.com/2021/07/01/oneweb-on-the-verge-of-commercial-service-after-another-successful-launch/

  2. Fascinating. It will be interesting to see how much of OneWeb’s focus will be on backhaul to ISPs versus direct satellite Internet service to consumers. It will also be interesting to see how it competes with Starlink from a technical perspective.

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