Soyuz Rocket Launches 36 Internet Satellites to Orbit (+Video)
- April, 26, 2021 - 11:53
- World news
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A Russian Soyuz rocket carrier with 36 satellites created by UK firm OneWeb onboard successfully blasted off Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.
The satellites are set to expand the global internet coverage.
The rocket lifted off from Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia at 6:14 p.m. EDT (2214 GMT or 7:14 a.m. local time on Monday, April 26). If all goes to plan, this next clutch of satellites will fly to a near-polar orbit, joining a growing constellation at an altitude of roughly 280 miles (450 kilometers), Space reported.
All 36 satellites were successfully deployed by about four hours after launch, Arianespace representatives said.
"OneWeb's mission is to bring internet everywhere to everyone, by creating a global connectivity platform through a next-generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit," launch provider Arianespace said in a statement.
"Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, providing high-speed access globally — by air, sea and land," Arianespace added, noting that OneWeb hopes to scale service by year's end to underserved, northern areas in the United Kingdom, Alaska, Canada, northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic.
The Soyuz used an "advanced dispenser system" from RUAG Space to deploy the payloads during this evening's four-hour mission, Arianespace added in a tweet Wednesday (April 21).
The flight, designated ST31, is the sixth mission Arianespace has launched on behalf of OneWeb. With this latest batch deployed, OneWeb now has 182 satellites in orbit, with eventual plans to have 650 satellites in the constellation. Called Launch 6 by OneWeb, the mission is the third for the company's "Five to 50" program, which aims to provide internet access for customers north of 50 degrees latitude by June 2021.
"OneWeb's 'Five to 50' program aims to connect broadband data users in the Northern Hemisphere, with services covering the United Kingdom, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic Seas and Canada," OneWeb wrote in a statement. "Service will be ready to start by the end of year, with global service available in 2022."
Flight ST31 is the third OneWeb launch since the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020. The company, now under ownership of the British government and the Indian telecom firm Bharti Global, has sharply reduced how many satellites it plans to incorporate into the next-generation constellation.