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SMi Military PNT 2020  Satellite Communications Technology

Arianespace and Starsem launch 34 OneWeb satellites to help bridge the digital divide

(7 February 2020 - Arianespace) A year after orbiting the first six OneWeb satellites, Arianespace has launched another batch – involving 34 satellites this time – to help its customer offer global Internet access to all.

Arianespace will carry out 19 more Soyuz launches – along with the Ariane 62 version’s first flight – at the service of OneWeb, with these flights performed from three different space centers and occurring primarily during 2020 and 2021.

Today’s mission was the 50th Soyuz launch operated by Arianespace and Starsem, as well as the second successful mission for Arianespace in 2020.

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The Soyuz 2-1b launcher is suspended over the launch pad at Baikonur Cosmodrome prior to the launch of 34 OneWeb satellites (courtesy: Arianespace)

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Performed from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Arianespace’s first Soyuz mission of 2020 successfully orbited 34 satellites for OneWeb’s next-generation constellation. Flight ST27. 34 OneWeb satellites (courtesy: Arianespace)

Following the launch, Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace, said: “With this second successful mission for OneWeb, Arianespace reaffirms its role as the operator’s strategic partner and prepares itself for numerous other launches. They will allowed our customer to achieve its goal of providing truly global internet coverage. Thanks to its complete family of launchers, both current (Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega) and future (Ariane 6 and Vega C), Arianespace ensure a predominant role in the fast-growing market for constellation launches – whether for navigation, communications or Earth observation satellites.”

Today’s launch, the 27th Soyuz mission carried out by Arianespace and Starsem from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, injected 34 OneWeb satellites into orbit, bringing the total to 40. Liftoff was on Friday, February 7, 2020 at 2:42 a.m. local time (21:42 UTC on February 6).

The first six satellites in the OneWeb constellation were successfully orbited by Arianespace a year ago, in February 2019. Nineteen more Soyuz launches for this constellation will be carried out from three space centers (Kourou in French Guiana, Baikonur and Vostochny in Russia), along with the first Ariane 62 launch – with the missions taking place primarily in 2020 and 2021.

OneWeb will start customer demonstrations in 2020 and will offer global 24/7 coverage starting in 2021.

The OneWeb satellite operator intends to provide communications services across the planet by utilizing its constellation of new-generation satellites, which will provide seamless connectivity for everybody, anywhere in the world.

OneWeb therefore is deploying a network of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) to provide low-latency broadband services to a wide array of markets, including the aeronautical and maritime sectors, cellular network links, community Wi-Fi and emergency communications services. The operator’s primary objectives include providing connectivity for schools and reducing the digital divide around the world.

OneWeb Satellites – a joint venture founded by OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space – is prime contractor for the constellation. Built in Florida on a dedicated production line, the payloads for this latest launch are the seventh to 40th OneWeb satellites orbited by Arianespace.

The 27th Soyuz launch (using a Soyuz-Fregat version) performed by Arianespace and Starsem from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan also was the 50th carried out by these two companies since 1999, and the 1,917th flight overall for the Russian launch vehicle since its introduction in 1966.

Arianespace confirms its role at the service of constellations

This new launch brings to 147 the number of satellites launched by Arianespace for constellations: 56 for the operator Globalstar, 40 for the OneWeb system, 20 for the O3b constellation, four for the company Planet, and one for the Orbcomm network. The total also includes the launch of 26 satellites for the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Commission within the scope of Europe’s Galileo satellite navigation program.

In addition to the OneWeb satellites, Arianespace’s order book backlog includes 16 other constellation satellites for the following operators: Spire (8), Airbus Defense and Space (4), ESA and the European Commission (4).

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 600 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

About Starsem

Starsem is dedicated to providing international commercial marketing and operation of the Soyuz launch vehicle from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Shareholders in Starsem are Arianespace, ArianeGroup, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress).