Arianespace gets US$1.5 billion launch order as OneWeb gets Coca-Cola backing

by | Jun 29, 2015 | commercial launch services, Russia, Satellites, Seradata News, Soyuz, Spaceport, Virgin Galactic | 0 comments

European launch provider Arianespace has been awarded a contract worth up to US$1.5 billion to launch most of the initial 648 microsatellite internet-communications Ku-band constellation for OneWeb. The launches will take place on 21 Soyuz-ST rockets over a two-year period from the Soyuz launch site at Baikonur near Tyuratam in Kazakhstan, and from the Sinnamary launch site near Kourou in French Guiana.


It is envisaged that up to 36 spacecraft at a time will be placed into an orbital plane on each of the Soyuz ST (or Soyuz 2) launch vehicles. The spacecraft will be launched initially into a 500km low Earth orbit and raise themselves using electric propulsion into their 1,200km operational orbits.

Before the main batch of 20 Soyuz missions are launched, a single Soyuz flight will carry 10 spacecraft into orbit for in-orbit testing in late 2017.

While the two main launch sites have been selected, launches from the Russian spaceport at Plesetsk are also a possibility.   The contract includes five further Soyuz flights on option, plus options to launch on three Ariane 6 rockets.

Separate to this, a contract has been signed with Virgin Galactic to provide 39 replenishment launches carrying between one and three satellites into orbit using the air-launched LauncherOne smallsat launch vehicle.

The UK Channel Islands-based OneWeb, which is led by communications entrepreneur Greg Wyler, has raised US$500 million from investors including Virgin Group (which was already an investor), Airbus (which is building the microsatellites) as well as Bharti Enterprises, Totalplay Communications, Intelsat and Coca Cola. They join Qualcomm which was already an investor.

About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to

Related Articles

Was it an abort or launch failure? SpaceShipTwo abandons launch one second after ignition

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity rocket plane was air-dropped on a suborbital test flight from its mother ship WhiteKnightTwo Eve (which Read more

Virgin Atlantic woes leads Sir Richard Branson to sell part of Virgin Group’s stake in Virgin Galactic

With the UK Government about to impose a 14-day quarantine on arriving passengers from most other countries, UK airlines and Read more

Virgin Galactic merger with SCH is heralded by jump in share price (Updated)

In a vote on 23 October, shareholders of SCH (Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp.) approved its merger with upcoming space Read more

Virgin Galactic to merge with already publicly traded Social Capital Hedosophia in US$1.3bn deal

Space tourism operator Virgin Galactic (VG) and the investment partnership, Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH) announced on 8 July that they Read more

SpaceShipTwo makes another successful test flight but still does not beat Karman line for true spaceflight

At 1607 GMT on 15 February a Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Unity rocketplaine was air-dropped from its carrier aircraft Over the Read more

Virgin Galactic claimed to have achieved”spaceflight” with SpaceShipTwo – but we will stick with the Karman line thank you

The US Air Force has traditionally awarded its pilots “astronaut wings” if they have exceeded 50 miles (80km) in altitude. Others Read more

Getting higher and higher: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity makes another endo-atmospheric test flight

The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, VSS Unity, has made its third test flight, and the seventh in total for the SpaceShipTwo rocketplane design. Read more

UK vertical launch spaceport and rockets confirmed for Sutherland in North Scotland while Newquay Cornwall leads the three horizontal finalists

Ahead of the Farnborough International Air Show, the UK Space Agency (UKSA)finally decided on its choice of launch site for Read more

Cookies & Privacy

Click here to read about use of cookies on the website