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Soyuz Rocket Deploys 36 OneWeb Satellites on Arianespace’s First Mission from Vostochny Cosmodrome

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 18, 2020
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Soyuz-2 rocket lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with 36 OneWeb satellites. (Credit: Arianespace)

VOSTOCHNY COSMODROME, Russia (Arianespace PR) — OneWeb’s fourth launch overall -the third for 2020- is the first to be conducted with Soyuz by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

By successfully placing 36 new OneWeb constellation satellites into orbit, Arianespace resumed the deployment of this client’s satellite network, which now is composed of 110 satellites in low Earth orbit.

Today’s launch, Flight ST29, was the 53rd Soyuz mission carried out by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate, marking a milestone as their first from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia. Performed on Friday, December 18 at precisely 9:26:26 p.m. local time (12:26:26p.m. UTC), Flight ST29 orbited 36 new OneWeb satellites – bringing the size of the fleet in orbit to 110.

“Congratulations to all teams who made this first commercial mission from the Vostochny cosmodrome a success. This launch confirms Arianespace’s ability to deploy the OneWeb constellation through the use of three different Soyuz launch sites – in French Guiana, Kazakhstan and Russia. I sincerely want to thank OneWeb for their trust. I am delighted that Arianespace and Starsem have contributed – for the fourth time – to this client’s ultimate ambition of providing Internet access to everyone, anywhere, at any time,” said Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.

Arianespace has launched 110 OneWeb satellites to date. The initial six were successfully orbited by Soyuz Flight VS21 from French Guiana during February, 2019. In February and March 2020 Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate successfully launched 68 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Soyuz Flights ST27 and ST28.

Pursuant to an amended launch contract with OneWeb, Arianespace and Starsem will perform 15 more Soyuz launches through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of low Earth orbit satellites by the end of 2022.

OneWeb’s mission is to bring internet everywhere to everyone, by creating a global connectivity platform through a next-generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit. The OneWeb constellation will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity to a wide range of customer sectors, including aviation, maritime, backhaul services, and for governments, emergency response services and more. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to every place where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.

The satellite prime contractor is OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space. The satellites were produced in Florida, USA in its leading-edge satellite manufacturing facilities that can build up to two satellites per day on a series production line dedicated to spacecraft assembly, integration, and testing.

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 700 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore. Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.

About Starsem

Starsem markets and operates Soyuz launches from Baikonur for the international market. Its shareholders are Arianespace, ArianeGroup, the Russian space agency Roscosmos and the Samara Space Center (TsSKB-Progress).

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