The Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle launched 36 British communications satellites OneWeb into orbit. This was announced on Friday, December 18, by the head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin.
“All 36 OneWeb spacecraft have been launched by the Fregat upper stage into their calculated orbits. Mission completed successfully. Congratulations! ”He wrote on Twitter.
The launch of Soyuz-2.1b with a batch of satellites took place earlier on the same day at 15:27 Moscow time from the Vostochny cosmodrome. Satellites are launched into orbit in order to create a satellite Internet network.
In total, by 2022, it is planned to carry out 16 launches from Vostochny, Baikonur and Kuru.
The agreement between Arianespace and OneWeb for 21 launches of Soyuz carrier rockets with Fregat upper stages to launch 672 OneWeb satellites into space was signed in 2015. By 2021, the British OneWeb hoped to provide 24-hour coverage of the Earth with broadband Internet access, but managed to launch 74 vehicles into low-earth orbit.
However, at the end of March 2020, OneWeb filed for bankruptcy and launched a reorganization process. The company was in talks to attract additional investment, but the worsening economic situation due to the coronavirus pandemic prevented them from being successful.
On March 22, Roscosmos launched 34 British communications satellites into orbit using the Soyuz 2.1b launch vehicle. All satellites were launched successfully, communication with them was established on the same day. Prior to that, a batch of 34 British satellites was launched into orbit by the same launch vehicle in February.
The General Director of Glavkosmos (part of Roskosmos) announced that Russian enterprises resumed work on the OneWeb satellite launch project on September 21. At the same time, Arianespace announced the first launch of these vehicles from the Vostochny cosmodrome.