News Satellite Space News

Arianespace Soyuz rocket launches 34 OneWeb satellites

The latest OneWeb launch represents Arianespace’s third mission in 23 days with three different launch vehicles.

Arianespace has launched its ninth mission for broadband startup OneWeb, expanding its low earth orbit constellation to 288 satellites.

A total of 34 satellites for OneWeb launched on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. They separated from the launcher during nine successful sequences, according to Arianespace, in a mission that lasted three hours and 45 minutes.

It marked the first commercial mission Arianespace has performed with French-Russian affiliate Starsem from Kazakhstan in 2021, following four launches this year from Russia’s Vostochny launch site.

Following Ariane 5 VA254 and Vega VV19, ST34 is Arianespace’s third successful mission, with three different launchers, in less than one month, precisely 23 days. With these three missions, Arianespace has placed 41 satellites ranging from 1,4 kg up to 6.190kg into three different orbits (GEO, SSO and LEO) for the benefit of six clients.

Commenting on the launch, Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said: “Every single mission is special, but ST34 is the demonstration of our ability, no matter when or where, to deliver the best possible service! We operated three successful launches from two continents in precisely 23 days -less than one month-, with three different launchers, Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz. Any time, any mass, any orbit: this is once again what we achieved to the benefit of our customers!”

To date, Arianespace has launched 288 OneWeb satellites with nine Soyuz launches. Arianespace will perform 10 more Soyuz launches for OneWeb through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of low earth orbit satellites before the end of 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.

The satellite prime contractor is OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space. The satellites were produced in Florida, the USA in its satellite manufacturing facilities.

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. 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 three-stage Soyuz flight.