A total of 34 satellites for OneWeb launched on a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. They separated from the launcher during nine successful sequences, according to Arianespace, in a mission that lasted three hours and 45 minutes.
In its first mission of 2022, the European launch provider Arianespace launched Soyuz Flight VS27 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana at 1:09 p.m. EST (3:09 p.m. local time, or 1809 GMT).
Following Ariane 5 VA254 and Vega VV19, ST34 is Arianespace’s third successful mission, with three different launchers, in less than one month, precisely 23 days. With these three missions, Arianespace has placed 41 satellites ranging from 1,4 kg up to 6.190kg into three different orbits (GEO, SSO and LEO) for the benefit of six clients.
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“The total duration of the mission will be 3 hours and 33 minutes and will include nine satellite separations, after which the satellites will subsequently raise themselves to their operational orbit,” Arianespace said in a statement.
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Commenting on the launch, Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said: “Every single mission is special, but ST34 is the demonstration of our ability, no matter when or where, to deliver the best possible service! We operated three successful launches from two continents in precisely 23 days-less than one month-, with three different launchers.
Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz. Any time, any mass, any orbit: this is once again what we achieved to the benefit of our customers!”
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To date, Arianespace has launched 288 OneWeb satellites with nine Soyuz launches. Arianespace will perform 10 more Soyuz launches for OneWeb through 2021 and 2022. These launches will enable OneWeb to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of low earth orbit satellites before the end of 2022.
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OneWeb also published a set of practices they aim to follow concerning aspects of what they deem “responsible space” management, including aspects such as satellite design and orbital debris. Current or planned satellite constellations such as OneWeb’s, including companies like SpaceX and Amazon, often come under criticism for their effects on generating space debris and interfering with astronomical observations.
OneWeb’s mission is to create a global connectivity platform through a next-generation satellite constellation in Low Earth Orbit. The OneWeb constellation will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity to a wide range of customer sectors, including aviation, maritime, enterprise and government.
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The launch of the satellites was operated by Arianespace and its Euro-Russian affiliate Starsem under contract with Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. RKTs-Progress (the Samara Space Center) is responsible for the design, development, manufacture and integration of the Soyuz launch vehicle as well as for the three-stage Soyuz flight.