When OneWeb took out its multi-launch booking of Soyuz rockets in 2015 with Arianespace, it also took three options to fly on the new Ariane 6. It has now decided to exercise one of these options, electing to fly on the maiden flight of the Ariane 6. The two-booster Ariane 62 version of the rocket is expected to fly in July 2020.

Update on 21 March 2019: During the formal signing of the contract on 19 March, the number of OneWeb’s satellites on board the flight has been disclosed as 30.

Comment by David Todd: This is a high-risk strategy. Maiden flights of brand-new rockets have traditionally suffered high failure rates. Remember what happened to the maiden flight of the Ariane 5. Seradata’s own records note that since 1990 the maiden flight failure rate is in excess of 45 per cent. No doubt the launch price was very attractive. However, OneWeb might have trouble getting insurance for this flight.

Arianespace released this image showing how the OneWeb satellites will be carried. Courtesy: Arianespace