OneWeb launches 34 more satellites into orbit to join their satellite constellation

Earlier today, 34 more OneWeb satellites were lifted into orbit on a Soyuz rocket that launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, this being the company’s 9th launch.

This launch brings the total number of satellites in the companies constellation up to 288.

OneWeb satellite constellation

The goal of OneWeb is very similar to the goal of SpaceX’s Starlink program. They make use of many satellites in lower Earth orbit to provide satellite internet connectivity around the globe. Unlike SpaceX, OneWeb does not have their own rockets to rely on for launch services. Instead, OneWeb satellites launch on Soyuz rockets. The first test mission of the satellites launched in 2019, with the first operational launch occurring in February of 2020.

Liftoff of Soyuz 2.1b for OneWeb launch #9. Credit: OneWeb

OneWeb Launch 9

This is OneWeb’s 9th launch overall. The mission carried satellites #255 through #288 to a target inclination of 87.4 degrees. The satellites, manufactured in Florida, reach an operational altitude of 1,200 km. This is over double the altitude of Starlink satellites and has its trade-offs. A higher altitude means a higher latency, but also means that each satellite has a larger service area on the ground.

While OneWeb hopes to compete with SpaceX, their markets are slightly different. Both services are designed to provide high-speed internet to their customers but Starlink’s market is direct to consumers. This differs from OneWeb’s market of businesses, governments, and small clusters of communities. The two companies will, however, compete in the aviation space where both plan to use their satellite networks to provide improved internet access on flights.

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