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VIDEO OneWeb Successfully Launch First 6 LEO Broadband Satellites

Thursday, February 28th, 2019 (9:07 am) - Score 715
oneweb rocket launch arianespace soyuz

British registered space company OneWeb, part of a joint venture with Airbus, last night succeeded in launching the first six (OneWeb F6) of their compact low-latency ultrafast broadband satellites into circular Low Earth Orbit (LEO) around the earth at 1000km (close to their operational orbit).

The satellite’s were attached to an Arianespace Soyuz 2-1b (Soyuz ST-B) rocket, designated VS21, which launched from the Guiana Space Center in South America. Happily all of the spacecraft were released without any major problems and signal acquisition has since been confirmed.

In the near future the company hopes to start launching more than 30 satellites per rocket, which will grow until their “initial” constellation is home to more than 650 satellites (if all goes well then there are tentative plans for c.900 and maybe even c.2,000 in the future). The next step will be to begin customer demos in 2020 and to achieve full global commercial coverage by 2021.

Each satellite weighs around 150kg+ and is roughly waist high (without their solar panels). In theory these could deliver latency times of around 25-35ms (similar to an ADSL based fixed line connection) and “ultrafast broadband” speeds of 100Mbps+ (peak speeds of 500Mbps have been mentioned), but it remains to be seen how this pans out in reality.

The satellites communicate with Earth via the Ka (20-30GHz) and Ku (11-14GHz) spectrum bands. The Ka-band will be used for communication between the Ground Network (which connects the OneWeb system to the Internet) and the satellites; while the Ku band will be used for communication between the satellites and the user terminals that will deliver Internet connectivity to consumers.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said:

“This successful launch is a historic milestone for OneWeb, and marks the start of a new phase for our company as we begin scaling our satellite constellation in preparation to start full commercial services. I am also proud that we were able to announce the signing of our first two customers, demonstrating demand for OneWeb’s services.

OneWeb was founded to make access possible for everyone, everywhere, and this launch is the first step towards making our goal a reality and bringing much-needed Internet access to people no matter where they are.

Our system will be able to offer significantly lower latency and faster speeds. We designed our system to create a coverage footprint over the entire planet – including previously unconnected rural areas, seas, and airspaces.

Our world is increasingly connected, and we do not want to leave anyone behind. Our constellation will level the playing field and connect the communities, areas, and industries that have until now been excluded from fast, reliable Internet access. What we are undertaking here is a project of ambitious scale, and I’m enormously proud of the team for getting us to this important milestone.”

Package plans and prices have yet to be announced, although the main focus is on tackling the less well connected parts of the world. Last month OneWeb secured additional funding of £18m from the UK Space Agency in order to help support their plans (here).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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