First OneWeb launch of 2021 carried out as planned to make up for lost time

by | Mar 25, 2021 | commercial launch services, Constellation, Launches, Russia, Satellites, Seradata News

Arianespace, through its Russian joint venture Starsem, has launched a Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat vehicle carrying 36 OneWeb satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO). The mission lifted off at 0247 GMT on 25 March 2021 from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Siberia, Russia, and brings OneWeb’s in-orbit satellite tally to 146.

The Fregat M upper stage was dropped off into a 450 km orbit inclined at 87.4 degrees. From there it performed nine satellite deployments to spread them out over the orbit. Once ready, the spacecraft will use their own propulsion systems to raise themselves to their 1,200 km operational altitude.

This is the second launch – following one in December 2020 – in OneWeb’s “Five to 50” initiative. The company plans to expand its constellation quickly to allow complete coverage over 50 degrees latitude by mid-2021. Providing this arctic service by the end of the year is an important milestone and, coupled with an aggressive launch schedule, paves the way to providing a global service next year.

The Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat rocket carrying 36 OneWeb satellites to LEO. Courtesy: Roscosmos, Space Center Vostochny, and TsENKi

The UK government’s £400 million (US$500 million) investment in the OneWeb constellation (along with its Indian co-investor Bharti) was seen as a gamble, but there are signs this is paying off, making it a major competitor to the SpaceX Starlink constellation. 

OneWeb has signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the US Department of Defense (DoD) satellite communications application specialist, TrustComm, to eventually provide the US military with a data communications service. It would focus initially on northern latitudes, which are difficult to reach using GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit) satellites. Meanwhile, research is continuing into the possibility of offering a navigation service via the OneWeb constellation similar to the MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) GPS or Galileo systems.

David Todd contributed to this story.

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 www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

OneWeb completes its “Five to 50” milestone with fourth launch this year

Russia successfully launched a Soyuz 2-1B Fregat vehicle at 1248 GMT 1 July from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Eastern Russia. The Read more

Third OneWeb launch of the year takes constellation count to over 200

Following a brief one-day delay a Soyuz 2-1B (with Fregat upper-stage) rocket lifted-off from Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia, at 1738 GMT, Read more

Does 2010 loom for maiden French Guiana Soyuz launch?

Already delayed once from 2008 to 2009 the European Space Agency (ESA) seems to be preparing for a possible delay Read more

Soyuz 2.1b/Fregat launches 36 OneWeb satellites from Vostochny

A Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat was launch from Vostochny in Eastern Russia at 1226 GMT on 18 December carrying 36 OneWeb communications Read more

Three Gonets-M satellites are launched on a Soyuz – plus a small nanosat

At 0114 GMT on 3 December 2020 a Russian Soyuz 2-1b/Fregat launch vehicle was launched from the Plesetsk launch site Read more

Soyuz rocket launches from Plesetsk carrying three Gonets-M satellites and 19 rideshare passengers

Lifting-off at 1120 GMT on 28 September from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Northern Russia, a Soyuz 2-1B mission has carried 22 Read more

Soyuz 2-1B Fregat software design fault caused launch failure says Roscosmos

The launch failure on 28 November of the Soyuz 2-1B Fregat, which destroyed 19 satellites including the Meteor 2M-1 weather Read more

Departure of Dominic Cummings loses UK Space Industry its biggest supporter in Downing Street

Dominic Cummings, the principal adviser to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and the driving force for Brexit and the purchase Read more

Cookies & Privacy

Click here to read about use of cookies on the website

Categories

Archives