OneWeb launches 34 more satellites

 Soyuz carrying 34 OneWeb minisats launches from Baikonur

Communications company OneWeb has added a further 34 satellites to its proposed constellation of 650, taking the total number launched so far to 40.

The Soyuz launcher took off from Baikonur in Kazakhstan on 6 February and the satellites were dispensed in nine batches over a period of several hours.

The company aims to deliver worldwide internet coverage through its constellation.

ESA is helping OneWeb to develop its next generation satellites, from supporting the development of novel automation techniques and artificial intelligence, to managing the spacecraft and their interaction with terrestrial networks to deliver global 5G connectivity.

The UK-based company plans to offer full commercial global services for sectors such as maritime, aviation, government and enterprise in 2021.

Adrian Steckel, chief executive of OneWeb, said: “The successful manufacture, delivery and launch of this batch of 34 satellites is the latest proof point of the OneWeb plan. I am very proud of our team and partners who continue to collaborate to make our ambitious scale a reality.”

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth at the UK Space Agency, said: “There is huge commercial potential for a cost-effective worldwide telecoms satellite system, and the UK space sector is playing a leading role in delivering it, building on our world-leading capabilities in satellite telecommunications, connectivity and data.

“Satellite telecoms are central to bringing fast responsive services to people and communities right across the UK and around the world.”

Prior to launch, satellite operators must demonstrate they have considered any associated risks and have safeguards in place, such as the ability to manoeuvre satellites to avoid debris and other spacecraft, and to de-orbit them at the end of their lifetime.

She added: “Responsible growth means that we recognise the importance of protecting the space environment and are the leading investor in ESA’s space safety and security programme, which includes a new mission to help remove space debris.”

The UK space sector employs 42,000 people and generates an income of £14.8 billion each year, with the value of exports standing at £5.5 billion.

Published 16 March 2020
Last updated at 16 March 2020 - 14:33