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OneWeb Ready to Connect Northern Hemisphere After Successful Arianespace Launch

By Jeffrey Hill | July 1, 2021

The OneWeb 8 mission just moments before liftoff. (Video capture courtesy of Arianespace)

London-based Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation operator OneWeb sent a critical batch of 36 new satellites into space early Thursday morning, following a successful launch on an Arianespace Soyuz rocket. The new batch brings OneWeb’s total constellation to 254 satellites, which it says is enough to start offering commercial high-speed internet connectivity services to a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere.

“This is the one that gives us connectivity from 50 degrees North latitude to the North Pole, and covers Northern Europe, the U.K., Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and Iceland,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson told reporters following the launch.

Arianespace launched OneWeb’s eighth batch of satellites from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Siberia, at 8:48 a.m. EDT. This is Arianespace’s 58th Soyuz mission conducted in coordination with its Starsem affiliate.

Once fully launched, OneWeb’s constellation will comprise 648 satellites. The operator plans to begin launching services  over limited regions by the end of this year.

The successful launch is especially good news for Bharti Global, which just announced an investment of more than $500 million into OneWeb, making Bharti Global the largest shareholder of a now fully-funded company. The funding marks a recovery for OneWeb, which declared bankruptcy just 15 months ago.

“OneWeb represents a unique opportunity for investors at a key moment in the commercialization of space,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, now OneWeb’s executive chairman, said in a statement.