Miami, Dec 8 OneWeb, the British Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, this Thursday launched from Florida (USA) 40 additional satellites to its constellation of more than 600 already set up to provide broadband communications is in space, thus inaugurating an agreement with SpaceX to use its booster rockets.
Liftoff took place as scheduled at 5:28 pm US Eastern Time (22:28 GMT) from the NASA Kennedy Space Center Platform 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
OneWeb congratulated on Twitter, saying, “We have achieved liftoff. Our 40 satellites have left the ground in Florida. Thank you to our partners at @SpaceX for the successful liftoff.”
The first OneWeb satellite launch with SpaceX relied on the powerful Falcon 9 reusable rocket, whose first stage separated from the rest within minutes of liftoff and returned to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station landing zone.
OneWeb, a company that, according to its website, “exists to remove the barriers to connectivity that hold back economies and communities,” called today’s launch “a historic mission,” using the company’s engine for the first time. Private property of tycoon Elon Musk.
This “historic mission” also marks the company’s first launch from Florida, where its satellites are also manufactured by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus.
Earlier, its satellites were put into orbit with a flight on 13 Russian Soyuz rockets as well as an Indian GLSV Mk.3 rocket bought through French launch service provider Arianespace, reports specialized website spaceflightnow.com does.
So this marks the 15th shipment of OneWeb satellites designed to transmit low-latency broadband Internet signals to customers around the world.
As the Falcon 9 first stage returns to its base in Florida, the second is going into a 600-kilometre (373 mi) high polar orbit to deploy all 40 satellites.
Today’s launch will add these satellites to OneWeb’s fleet of 648, completing nearly 80% of its first-generation ensemble, the London-based company said in a statement, providing global wholesale connectivity to its partners.
Today’s launch will allow the company to expand its service and launch “additional connectivity solutions soon for partners in the Americas, Europe, and most of the Middle East and Asia, representing all points north of the 35th parallel.”
The expansion of the fleet, he says, will allow coverage between the South Pole and the 35th parallel south, opening up connectivity services to southern Australia, South Africa and parts of South America.
OneWeb’s connectivity solutions are already active in Alaska, Canada, the United Kingdom, Greenland and the wider Arctic “to provide Internet connectivity to underserved rural and remote communities and businesses,” he said.
Last March, the British company announced that it had reached an agreement with SpaceX to carry its satellites into space, though it noted that the terms of the agreement are “confidential.”
OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson thanked SpaceX for “the support that reflects our shared vision of the limitless potential of space.”
“With these launch plans in place, we are on track to complete construction of our entire fleet of satellites and deliver strong, fast and secure connectivity around the world,” Masterson said.
SpaceX, on the other hand, has its Starlink satellites in space, located in low Earth orbit, from where they offer high-speed, low-latency broadband internet even to remote and rural locations around the world.