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

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

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

Comment by David Todd: This is a high risk strategy.  Maiden flights of brand new rockets have traditionally got very 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 will have trouble getting insurance for this flight.