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Bharti-backed OneWeb launches 36 new LEO satellites

OneWeb, which is backed by homegrown Bharti Airtel, plans to launch a fleet of 648 LEO satellites as part of its services (ESA/ATG Medialab)Premium
OneWeb, which is backed by homegrown Bharti Airtel, plans to launch a fleet of 648 LEO satellites as part of its services (ESA/ATG Medialab)

  • OneWeb’s total Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite count stands at 218 after the latest launch from the Russian spaceport, Vostochny Cosmodrome
  • The launch is part of OneWeb’s ‘five to 50’ programme, which is meant to bring satellite-based broadband Internet to the UK, US, among other countries

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel owned satellite communications company OneWeb, confirmed the launch of 36 new Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites today. The launch is part of OneWeb’s ‘five to 50’ programme, which is meant to bring satellite-based broadband Internet to countries like the UK, Alaska, US, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic seas, and Canada. The company has said that its services will start from 2022.

The launch took place on 28 May, 18:38 BST, and was carried out by European satellite launch company, Arianespace, from the Russian spaceport, Vostochny Cosmodrome. OneWeb had launched a previous wave of 36 satellites from the same spaceport in March.

Today's launch brings OneWeb’s total LEO satellite count to 218. The company plans to launch a fleet of 648 LEO satellites as part of its services. The company has only one launch left before it can begin services to reach regions north of 50 degrees latitude, by June 2021, it said. The satellites are built under a joint venture between OneWeb and the aerospace company, Airbus. The satellite communications company said it will be able to build its fleet for completion of delivery by mid-2022.

OneWeb also received an investment worth $550 million from Paris-based Eutelsat Communications late in April. “This investment from one of the world’s most experienced and largest global operators is a vote of confidence in OneWeb and underscores the arrival of low-earth orbit (Leo) satellites into mainstream long-term growth planning for major operators," the company said in a statement at the time. Eutelsat acquired a 24% stake in OneWeb as part of the deal.

It had also been backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems LLC, which invested $400 million in OneWeb in January this year. The total investments in the company stand at $1.9 billion now.

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