A Soyuz rocket will launch a new clutch of 36 OneWeb internet satellites into orbit from Russia today (May 27) and you can watch the liftoff live online.
You can watch the launch here and on the Space.com homepage, as well as via Arianespace’s YouTube channel or OneWeb’s website and YouTube channel. The launch webcast should begin about 20 minutes beforehand.
The launch will take roughly 3 hours and 51 minutes for an Arianespace Soyuz rocket to deploy the satellites into a near-polar orbit over four separations, OneWeb’s press release stated, adding that the new launch will bring its constellation to 218 satellites.
The satellites will operate at roughly 280 miles (450 km) in altitude, Arianespace stated in a separate release. The satellites’ planned altitude is roughly equivalent to the 250-mile (400 km) altitude of the International Space Station, which operates in a different orbit inclined by roughly 52 degrees.
OneWeb plans to provide satellite-based internet access to traditionally underserved areas north of the 50th parallel, the company said. “These regions include the U.K., northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic seas and Canada. Global services to follow in 2022,” OneWeb added in its statement.
The company has said it plans to start service in the north in June. Thursday’s flight is part of the company’s “Five to 50” program that will serve commercial entities in northern territories, in bands including 3G, LTE, 5G and wi-fi.
Flight ST32 is the fourth OneWeb launch since the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020. The company is now owned by the British government and the Indian telecom firm Bharti Global; it also greatly reduced how many satellites it plans to put into space, to a first tranche of 650.
OneWeb is one of numerous companies using fleets of small satellites to provide broadband services. Some of its largest competitors are SpaceX, which just sent another 60 Starlink satellites to orbit on Wednesday (May 26), and Amazon, which selected United Launch Alliance last month for nine eventual launches in support of the new Project Kuiper broadband constellation.
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