OneWeb, a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications operator, co-owned by Bharti Global and the UK government, launched another batch of 36 satellites by Arianespace from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia. The latest launch takes OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation to 218 satellites. These would form part of OneWeb’s 648 LEO satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.

What

  1. This represents the fourth in a five-launch programme to fulfil the ‘Five to 50’ service, which will enable OneWeb to offer connectivity across the UK, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, the Arctic Seas and Canada.
  2. The service is expected to be switched on before the end of the year and OneWeb intends to make global services available in 2022.
  3. The company’s satellites are built by OneWeb Satellites, a OneWeb and Airbus joint venture facility in Florida that can produce two satellites a day.
  4. The latest satellites launch comes just a month after Bharti-backed OneWeb announced plans to raise $550 million (Rs 4,103 crore) by selling a 24% stake to Eutelsat Communications, bringing its total funding to $1.9 billion and taking it closer to launching a first-generation fleet of 648 satellites next year.
  5. Bharti Global is the overseas arm of Bharti Enterprises -- the holding company of Bharti Airtel, India’s second-largest telco.