[SatNews] OneWeb Ltd, the developer of a new global, high-speed, low latency satellite-based network designed to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges worldwide, has signed a contract with Arianespace for twenty-one (21) Soyuz launches, plus options for five (5) additional Soyuz launches and three (3) Ariane 6 launches. These launches will ensure the timely deployment of the full constellation.
The first launch will take place in late 2017 and the full deployment will be completed by the end of 2019. Arianespace will utilize the Soyuz launch pads from Guiana Space Center, Baikonur and additional launch pads from Russia to ensure the timely deployment. The unique capability of being able to achieve near polar orbit from multiple launch sites using a common launcher along with its proven industrial production were instrumental in the Soyuz selection as a key resource to deploy the constellation on schedule.
The optional Ariane 6 launches will be available to OneWeb starting in 2021 to support the replenishment of the constellation and to allow the transition to the next generation of the OneWeb constellation. OneWeb satellites will weigh less than 150 kg. The system will bring more than 10 Tbps of new capacity to rural areas around the globe.
OneWeb satellites will be launched into a near polar orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers before raising themselves to their operational orbit, giving customers extremely low latency and providing communications access to the entire world with fiber quality Internet connectivity.
Once the contract had been signed, Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said, "We consider it a great honor to play such an important role in the deployment of this innovative constellation. First, the trust placed by OneWeb in Arianespace is simply exceptional, considering the scope of the contract and the stakes it entails. Second, the goal of this constellation, which is to provide mankind with global connectivity everywhere on the planet, is fully in line with one of our main values: bring space down to Earth for the benefit of all. Many thanks to OneWeb for making Arianespace part of such an exciting project!"