OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications provider recently confirmed the successful launch of all 36 satellites from a Soyuz launch vehicle, which began flight from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

According to the U.K. company, this brings the total in-orbit constellation to 110 satellites, part of OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.

Lift-off occurred last Friday at 12:26 GMT. OneWeb’s satellites separated from the rocket and were dispensed in nine batches over a period of 3 hours 52 minutes with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed, a press release stated.

In November, the company was acquired by the U.K. government and Indian conglomerate Bharti Global, after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March.

The success of this week’s launch, it said, will put it on track to offer global services to customers starting with the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Artic Seas, and Canada in 2021 with global service following in 2022.

“Today’s launch is one of many steps we have taken to operationalize one of the world’s first LEO constellations,” said Suni Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Enterprises.

“Overall, there is an overwhelming demand for broadband and the pandemic has taxed infrastructure everywhere and many people worldwide are left with little to no options to access the internet. OneWeb’s system will help meet existing and future demand by delivering broadband connectivity to communities, towns, and regions left unconnected or under-connected.”

Heidi Dillard, the company’s chief administration officer, wrote in a recent blog that “OneWeb is on a mission to deliver broadband to the world, from Space. We are building a global constellation of unique built-on-a-production-line satellites that can deliver high-speed internet connections wherever and whenever you need it. A rural town, a small island, on a plane, on a boat.

“The current global pandemic underscores the necessity of connectivity for education, health, and economic advancement. Many people around the world do not have access to the Internet or a high-speed connection that lets them engage with the world or even with digital services in their local communities.

“The Space economy will solve many of these challenges and in the next 50 years, we will continue to wisely use Space in new and imaginative ways to improve sustainability, equity, and digital inclusion.”

Paul Barker
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