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OneWeb celebrates successful satellite launch

Written by Peter Walker
01/03/19

OneWeb has confirmed the successful launch of its first six broadband satellites aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

Lift-off occurred at 21.37 on 27 February, with the satellites separating from the rocket in two batches and signal acquisition confirmed for all six.

The launch marks both the beginning of the largest satellite launch campaign in history and the transition from successful proof-of-concept to the commercialisation of OneWeb. Launching more than 30 satellites per rocket, OneWeb’s monthly launch program will grow its constellation to more than 650 satellites to allow customer demos in 2020 and provide full global commercial coverage by 2021.

The OneWeb network is aimed at providing a unique combination of high data throughput, low latency, true global internet coverage to the poles, via a range of user terminals for multiple markets.

The satellites will communicate with Earth via the Ka and Ku spectrum bands. The Ka-band will be used for communication between the Ground Network - which connects the OneWeb system to the internet - and the satellites; while the Ku band will be used for communication between the satellites and the user terminals that will deliver Internet connectivity to consumers.

OneWeb also announced the signing of its first two customers. Its business model provides service indirectly through reseller partners, or directly to the end customer, in the case of airlines or vessel operators, for example.

Chief executive Adrian Steckel said: “This successful launch is a historic milestone for OneWeb, and marks the start of a new phase for our company as we begin scaling our satellite constellation in preparation to start full commercial services.

“OneWeb was founded to make access possible for everyone, everywhere, and this launch is the first step towards making our goal a reality and bringing much-needed Internet access to people no matter where they are.”

OneWeb’s satellites are manufactured by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space.