Bharti-backed OneWeb on way to deliver connectivity across UK, Canada, Northern Europe, Arctic Region
London, July 1, 2021
OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite operator in which India's Bharti Enterprises has a strategic minority stake, today announced the successful launch of 36 satellites to bring the total in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites.
With this major milestone, the company is on its way to deliver connectivity across the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, and the Arctic Region, a press release from Bharti said.
The 36 satellites were placed in orbit by European commercial satellite launch company Arianespace's Soyuz Flight ST33.'
The Soyuz flight lifted off at 0948 hours local time (12:48 pm UTC) from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.
“This new launch was very special, marking the completion of OneWeb’s ‘Five to 50’ ambition to bring into orbit the satellites required to enable connectivity services to the 50th parallel and above by year's end which includes Canada, U.K., Northern Europe, Alaska and Arctic regions,” said Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace and Starsem. “Congratulations to all the teams who made this eighth launch dedicated to OneWeb’s satellites a success!”
Arianespace has launched 254 OneWeb satellites through eight Soyuz launches to date. Arianespace will perform 11 more Soyuz launches for OneWeb through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of low Earth orbit satellites before the end of 2022.
OneWeb’s mission is to create 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, enterprise and governments. Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to the hardest to reach places, where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide.
The satellite prime contractor is OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture of 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.
The completion of the latest launch will take OneWeb’s in-orbit constellation to 254 satellites, or 40% of its planned fleet of 648 LEO satellites that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity. OneWeb intends to make global service available in 2022.
Service demonstrations will begin this summer in several key locations – including Alaska and Canada – as OneWeb prepares for commercial service in the next six months. Offering enterprise-grade connectivity services, the company has already announced distribution partnerships across several industries and businesses including with BT, ROCK Network, AST Group, PDI, Alaska Communications and others, as OneWeb expands its global capabilities. The company continues to engage with telecommunications providers, ISPs, and governments worldwide to offer its low-latency, high-speed connectivity services and sees growing demand for new solutions to connect the hardest to reach places.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said: “Today’s momentous milestone demonstrates that OneWeb is now a leader in LEO broadband connectivity, serving a wide range of stakeholders across the Northern Hemisphere. This fifth launch amid the unprecedented global pandemic is truly remarkable and I congratulate the management team and fellow shareholders on the success.
“Bharti’s doubling of its investment earlier this week is testament to the commitment to OneWeb’s mission. We now look forward to the next chapter in OneWeb’s story, preparing the company for commercial service in the less than six months to deliver our global connectivity solutions to communities around the world. We wait for confirmation of satellite acquisition in the coming hours.”
Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said: “This is a truly historic moment for OneWeb, the culmination of months of positive momentum in our ‘Five to 50’ programme, increased investment from our global partners and the rapid onboarding of new customers. We are incredibly excited to start delivering high-speed, low-latency connectivity first to the UK and the Arctic region and to see our network scale over the coming months as we continue building to global service.Thanks to all our incredible partners who have been with us on this journey and are instrumental to making OneWeb’s mission a success.”