OneWeb’s third batch of satellites for its broadband internet constellation was lofted into orbit today on a Russian Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan with the aid of Europe’s Arianespace consortium.
- Liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is leased by Russia for Soyuz launches, came at 10:06 p.m. local time (10:06 a.m. PT). The 34 satellites join six spacecraft that were launched in February 2018, and 34 others that were sent up last month. Arianespace was in charge of launch logistics.
- Eventually, OneWeb plans to deploy a network of 650 satellites to provide global broadband internet access. Limited service focusing on Arctic regions could begin as early as this year, with service to maritime, aviation, government and enterprise sectors set for 2021.
- London-based OneWeb is considered the closest competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband project. It has received billions of dollars in investment from SoftBank Group and other backers, but this week, Bloomberg News reported that OneWeb was mulling a possible bankruptcy filing to address a cash crunch. In a statement, OneWeb said it that it was reducing its workforce due to the current global health and economic crisis, and that launch delays seem “inevitable.”
More from GeekWire:
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- OneWeb sends 34 broadband satellites into orbit on Arianespace Soyuz rocket, challenging SpaceX
- Investors commit another $1.25 billion to fund OneWeb’s internet satellite system
- OneWeb files for bankruptcy amid coronavirus chaos, leaving satellite network’s fate up in the air