Edinburgh / Moscow, 27 December 2021. – A Soyuz-2.1b rocket equipped with the Fregat upper stage is to launch 36 OneWeb communications satellites later today from the Baikonur spaceport, Roscosmos reported. The deployment of the new spacecraft will increase the number of satellites in the cluster to 394.
Today’s launch is part of a contract between Glavkosmos (a subsidiary of Roscosmos), Arianespace and Starsem. According to Glavkosmos, seven further launches are planned for 2022. The first of these will take place in February from Kourou spaceport, while the other six will launch from Baikonur.
The 36 OneWeb communication satellites were manufactured in the U.S. as part of a collaboration with Airbus Defense and Space. OneWeb satellites will provide global high-speed internet access, starting commercial services at the end of this year. The initial constellation will consist of 648 satellites in total.
The spacecraft are all launched to polar orbits at about 500 km above Earth before raising them to their operational orbit of 1200 km.