Next Soyuz rocket launch to deploy 34 OneWeb satellites for broadband Internet17th Sep 2021
The upcoming Soyuz rocket launch should deploy 34 OneWeb satellites for broadband Internet connection into orbit. As of today, the launch, scheduled from Baikonur cosmodrome, has been postponed several times – last time, from Thursday 19th Aug to Saturday 21st Aug.
Soyuz Rocket Launch Prep Work
Launch delays are a common occurrence, and the window of opportunity is still open for the Soyuz rocket launch. Besides, there is a fair amount of prep work involved before every launch. In the case of the upcoming Soyuz rocket launch, experts had to do the final inspections of the carrier, configure the first stage ignition system, and remove the thermal blanket from the rocket fairing. Later on, the client – British OneWeb – called for another launch delay to work on the ground control and monitoring systems for the spacecraft.
OneWeb & Its Satellite Constellation
When the upcoming Soyuz rocket launch for OneWeb finally occurs, the company’s fleet will be replenished by 34 more satellites for broadband Internet connection. This means that the total number of satellites in OneWeb’s constellation would reach 288. This figure may not be as impressive as SpaceX’s 1700+ spacecraft already orbiting the Earth, but the upside is that OneWeb needs a smaller constellation to offer broadband Internet coverage.
The upcoming launch will be the ninth one since February 2019. So far, the company has always used Russian rockets to deploy their Internet satellites. The last year was challenging for the company that filed for bankruptcy in March 2020 after failing to secure enough funding to go on with satellite manufacture. A few months later, the company re-emerged and renewed its operations having been rescued by a consortium that included the British government.
Next year, OneWeb plans to deploy a total of 648 satellites into orbit. The upcoming Soyuz rocket launch for OneWeb will first deploy two 147.5-kilogram satellites from the top of the cluster before releasing the remaining 32 in separate groups.