WASHINGTON — OneWeb announced June 25 a $500 million funding round and a contract with Arianespace and Virgin Galactic for a combined 60 satellite launches.

OneWeb said it raised the funding from a group that included Airbus, Hughes Network Systems, Intelsat, Qualcomm, Virign Group, and Coca-Cola.

OneWeb said in a statement that it will use the funding to “further key technologies” for its broadband satellite system.

OneWeb also said it is placing the largest commercial launch order in history, including 21 launches from Arianespace and 39 LauncherOne launches from Virgin Galactic.

Arianespace CEO Stephane Israel confirmed the launch services order via Twitter.

Just signed a MAJOR contract in London with #OneWeb‘s Brian Holz for up to 29 launches using #Soyuz and #Ariane6 pic.twitter.com/4C1dFLd4BV

— Stéphane Israël (@arianespaceceo) June 25, 2015

The Virgin Galactic order also includes options for 100 additional launches.

“The scale of this order will drive our manufacturing rates to achieve unprecedented cost reductions for small satellite launch,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in a June 25 statement. “We are excited to support OneWeb and its partners as they harness the potential of small satellites to create new opportunities for all.”

From left, Richard Branson, OneWeb founder Greg Wyler and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides.
From left, Richard Branson, OneWeb founder Greg Wyler and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. Credit: Twitter

Hughes Network Systems released its own press release June 25 to highlight its role in the project. The Germantown, Maryland-based company said it will be developing the OneWeb ground system, including gateways and terminals.

“OneWeb is a game-changing, next-generation satellite system,” Hughes President Pradman Kaul said in the release. “We have been looking at every detail and are excited to participate in the ground system design, development and production. In addition, we will employ the OneWeb network to deliver services to our global base of customers and distribution partners.”

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...