This launch is the second release for OneWeb, a 630 spacecraft goal initial network. Today (Feb. 6) from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, a Soyuz rocket that carries 34 one-Web satellite broadband satellites flew off from the pad at 16:42. EST (GMT 2142; local time 2:42 a.m. Feb 7).
The Soyuz, which is run by French Arianespace Company, dispatched all 34 aircraft at 280 miles (450 kilometers) altitude, as scheduled, by 3 hours and 45 minutes after launch. The lb 325. Satellites (147 kilograms) will then fly to their operational location, around 745 miles (1 200 kilometers) over Earth.
The launch today was the 2nd one for OneWeb but the first one to load a massive batch for the corporation. In February 2019, six satellites launched aboard the former OneWeb Flight, which was also controlled by a Soyuz.
However, the launch rate is going to increase substantially, and soon: by the end of 2021, the agreement between Arianespace and OneWeb provides for 19 extra lifts. Such missions will reflect the original OneWeb array of 650 satellites that will provide high-speed, low-latency services to many consumers in sectors including aeronautics, maritime, backhaul services, WiFi, emergency response systems, and more. Representatives of OneWeb and Arianespace wrote in today’s mission statement.
“Focused on linking schools and integrating the digital divide for individuals worldwide. OneWeb will also concentrate on its goal,” they said.
OneWeb that has its headquarters in London and Virginia intends to provide a test-based Internet service later this year and to operate in 2021 on the global 24-hour network service. For instance, Space X has already launched 240 spacecraft, including tens of thousands of spaceships, for its vast Starlink constellation.
In addition, Amazon is building a network of its own dubbed project Kuiper with over 3,000 satellites. Nonetheless, no Kuiper’s vessel left the ground.
The night sky will significantly change with these megaconstellations once they take form as planned. As per the United Nations Department for Outer Space Relations, Earth orbit presently holds only 2,000 satellites, and humankind has sent about 9,150 items to space across history.
Scientists have already expressed concern over the ability of Starlink to disturb astronomical observations. Yet analysts also stressed that spacecraft designers and operators must now begin to take better measures to prevent space junk on the Earth orbit.
After all, more and more spacecraft are at risk, mainly if proactive mitigation actions do not happen, because chances of a collision are increasing. As we have observed many times in the last decade, even a single shattering can produce thousands of new debris pieces.
Broadband megaconstellations were not the only space-junk drivers’ worries. The reduction in the costs of designing and deploying satellites indicates that there are many more crafts of several types, and people of different levels of experience and skills are running them.