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Arianespace’s Soyuz Sends 34 New OneWeb Satellites into Orbit

By Jeffrey Hill | August 23, 2021

Arianespace Soyuz Flight ST34 just moments before launch. (From Arianespace live launch video)

European launch service provider Arianespace successfully launched 34 satellites on Saturday for OneWeb, bringing the operator’s total fleet to 288 Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation satellites.

Arianespace sent the OneWeb satellites into space on a Soyuz rocket (Soyuz Flight ST34) that lifted off from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome at 11:13 BST on Saturday. OneWeb confirmed that its satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of 3 hours 45 minutes. The operator also acquired signals from all 34 newly launched satellites.

OneWeb plans to launch a total of 648 LEO satellites to provide global high-speed connectivity. CEO Neil Masterson said that the company is now preparing for an ambitious back-to-back launch schedule through the end of 2021 that will ensure the company remains on track to roll out full global connectivity services in 2022.

“We are seeing huge demand for our services from global customers, and we are incredibly excited about scaling our network ahead of its commercial launch,” said Masterson. “This success is down to our talented team and partners around the world, who continue to work relentlessly every day to deliver OneWeb’s constellation and bring connectivity to those in the hardest to reach places.”

It has been a very busy year for OneWeb since it was rescued from bankruptcy by a government and private industry investment group in July 2020, including an investment of  $500 million from Bharti Global, bringing Bharti Global’s contribution to $1 billion.

Earlier this month, South Korean manufacturing and technology company Hanwha joined OneWeb’s ownership consortium with a $300 million investment for an 8% share in the company. This investment brings OneWeb’s total equity investment since November 2020 to $2.7 billion with no debt.