On Tuesday, September 14, at 11:07 p.m. local time at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, Soyuz Flight ST35 lifted-off with 34 OneWeb satellites onboard, bringing, after the successful deployment, the size of the fleet in orbit to 322. Flight ST35 was the 60th Soyuz mission carried out by Arianespace and its Starsem affiliate, and the tenth mission for OneWeb.
The mission lasted three hours and 45 minutes. The 34 satellites were deployed during nine separation sequences, at an altitude of 450 km. It was also the ninth successful launch operated by Arianespace’s teams this year, bringing to 1,021 the total number of spacecraft orbited since the start of company’s operations.
“Congratulations to all the teams who made this 60th launch with Soyuz, the 10th for OneWeb, a success. We are living a great moment today as we pass the step of our 1,000th satellite launched to space while our customer OneWeb is hitting a new pace with more than 300 satellites in orbit. This 1,000th satellite was named XiliaSat by our community in reference of the meaning of 1,000 in ancient Greek in a contest on our social media,” said Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace. “This launch illustrates the recent acceleration in space operation – one third of these 1,000 Arianespace-launched satellites orbited over the 20 past months – and thus it is incumbent upon us, as leaders in the space sector, to embrace our responsibility to promote sustainable space operations.”
To date, Arianespace has launched 322 OneWeb satellites with ten Soyuz launches. Arianespace will perform nine more Soyuz launches for OneWeb through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation (650 satellites) in low Earth orbit by year-end 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 government. 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 launch of the satellites was operated by Arianespace and its Euro-Russian affiliate Starsem under contract with Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
Arianespace is responsible for the overall mission and flight-worthiness, with the support of Starsem for launch campaign activities including management of its own launch facilities at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
RKTs-Progress (the Samara Space Center) is responsible for the design, development, manufacture and integration of the Soyuz launch vehicle as well as for the 3-stage Soyuz flight. NPO Lavotchkin is responsible for the launch preparation operations and flight of the Fregat orbital vehicle.