The maiden flight of Ariane 6 will see the new vehicle carrying OneWeb satellites that will build out the company’s new global, high-speed, low latency satellite-based network designed to address the most demanding global connectivity challenges worldwide. Ariane 6 will be available to OneWeb from the second half of 2020 to provide launch capacity that supports the full deployment and replenishment of the OneWeb constellation.
The launch service agreement specifies the use of the qualification launch of the Ariane 62 version, scheduled for the second half of 2020; the two Ariane 6 options (either in its 62 version, accommodating up to 36 OneWeb satellites, or in the 64 version, up to 78 OneWeb satellites) will be utilized starting in 2023.
The OneWeb satellites will be launched by the first Ariane 62 into a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers before raising themselves to their operational orbit.
OneWeb’s mission is to deliver global communications through a next-generation satellite constellation that will bring seamless connectivity to everyone, everywhere.
To this end, OneWeb is building a network of low-Earth orbit satellites that will provide high-speed, low latency services to a range of markets – including aeronautics, maritime, backhaul services, community Wi-Fi, emergency response services and more. Central to its mission, OneWeb also will be focused on connecting schools and working to bridge the digital divide for people everywhere.
With its system deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, giving high-speed access around the world – by air, sea and land.
The Ariane 6 launch vehicle has two variants – Ariane 62 and Ariane 64 – which allows Arianespace to offer a wide new range of launch services and solutions to customers.
OneWeb has already entrusted Arianespace with 21 Soyuz launches to ensure the timely deployment of its constellation, whose first successful launch occurred on February 27, 2019, from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), French Guiana, South America.
Adrian Steckel, OneWeb Chief Executive Officer, said: “I am happy to announce we will be continuing our partnership with Arianespace to launch additional satellites for our constellation on Ariane 6. Our first launch represented the start of our mission to provide connectivity for everyone, everywhere and we are grateful to Arianespace for their professionalism and fundamental role in making our launch a success. With our first six satellites in orbit, first customer contracts signed, OneWeb has entered its commercialization phase and is one step closer to reaching our dreams of providing global connectivity. “
“We are glad to see OneWeb on board the first Ariane 6. It confirms its attractiveness on today’s commercial market and sets a mark for Ariane 6’s future,” added Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA Director of Space Transportation.
With the signature of this new contract, Stéphane Israël, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer, made the following statement: “Arianespace is extremely proud to be a part of the effort to deploy OneWeb’s constellation. OneWeb’s choice to fly aboard the first Ariane 6 says a great deal about Arianespace’s DNA: we have always been at the forefront in bringing together innovation and reliability. This contract illustrates the outstanding versatility of our future launcher, which will be a champion during the next decade, embracing all market needs. I wish also to thank the European Space Agency which has accepted to allocate to the market this first flight of Ariane 6, which is part of its development contract with our prime contractor and parent company ArianeGroup.”