OneWeb aims to deploy a record 40 satellites in SpaceX mission

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Update: OneWeb said Dec. 6 it is now targeting a launch date no earlier than Dec. 8 at 5:27 p.m. Eastern to “allow for additional pre-launch checks.”

TAMPA, Fla. — OneWeb said SpaceX is slated to launch 40 of its satellites as early as Dec. 6 to complete almost 80% of its low Earth orbit broadband (LEO) constellation.

All 40 satellites have been encapsulated for a Falcon 9 launch no earlier than 5:37 p.m. Eastern from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, OneWeb said Dec. 2.

It would be the first time a single launch mission has deployed more than 36 satellites for the British operator.

OneWeb confirmed Dec. 2 the successful encapsulation of all 40 satellites on SpaceX’s rocket. Credit: SpaceX

Arianespace had previously used Russian Soyuz rockets to deploy 32-36 satellites at a time — before its launch agreement with OneWeb was suspended in March amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

OneWeb signed agreements for three and two launches with SpaceX and India, respectively, shortly after the suspension. 

New Space India Limited, the commercial arm of India’s space agency, resumed the operator’s launch campaign Oct. 22 with the launch of 36 satellites on the country’s GSLV Mark 3 rocket.

OneWeb said SpaceX’s launch next week would enable the company to extend coverage “across the USA, Europe, and much of the Middle East and Asia” to the north.

A successful mission would also expand OneWeb’s constellation across the South Pole, Southern Australia, South Africa, and parts of South America.

OneWeb expects its remaining launch missions to be conducted within the next six months to enable global services.

SpaceX has more than 3,000 Starlink satellites in LEO for its broadband network, which received partial approval Dec. 1 for its second-generation constellation.