Update : Startup and Deployment Successful!
After four years and more than $ 2 billion in financing, OneWeb is poised to launch the first six satellites from a planned constellation of 650 that will cover the world in broadband. Arianespace-operated Soyuz rocket launches at 01:37 am in the Pacific from the Guiana Space Center. You can follow it live on the OneWeb website.
OneWeb is one of several companies that want to connect the world with a few hundred or a thousand satellites, and certainly the best-funded company – SoftBank is the biggest investor. Virgin Group, Coca-Cola, Bharti Group, Qualcomm and Airbus have all agreed.
The company's plan is to bring a total of 900 (initially 650) satellites to Earth's approximately 1,100-kilometer orbit. It states that it will be able to provide broadband virtually anywhere on Earth – wherever You can place a base station. Much cheaper and better than the existing satellite connectivity, which is expensive and slow.
Are you familiar? Of course, the SpaceX side project, Starlink, has similar ambitions, an even larger number of satellites are planned, and Swarm is seeking a smaller constellation of smaller satellites for cost-effective access. Ubiquitilink just announced this week that its unique technology will eliminate the need for base stations and the direct sending of satellite connections to regular phones. And they have already started all satellites!
OneWeb has experienced numerous delays; The entire constellation was originally planned for the end of 2019, which is not possible at this time. However, delays are the name of the ambitious aerospace company, and OneWeb has not only been reluctant – it has strengthened itself for mass production, raised funds for start-up contracts, and upgraded the satellites themselves. His updated timeline, as stated in the mission summary, "OneWeb will begin customer demos by 2020 and provide customers with 24-hour coverage in 2021." The projected cost for 2015 – just building and testing the constellation is likely to rub against a billion dollars, and startup costs will not be taken into account. But no one ever said that it was cheap. In fact, they probably said it was unbelievably expensive. Therefore, SoftBank and the other investors "commit too much capital," said CEO Adrián Steckel last month on the financial times.
The company also announced its first major deal with a telecom; Talia, which provides connectivity in Africa and the Middle East, has signed up to use OneWeb services in 2021.
Soyuz launches could each transport more than 30 of these satellites, so at least 20 of the entire constellation would be required for orbit. However, this first start has only six on board; The other parts aboard the mass start system have dummy payloads to simulate further development.
A OneWeb representative told me that this launch should "check the satellite design and validate the end-to-end system" is probably a good idea before you send another 600. This means that OneWeb will test and track these six birds for the next few months and ensure that the connection to ground stations and other aspects of the overall system is working properly (much delayed) near Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
You can see the start here at OneWeb.