The Indian rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites

The Indian rocket left Satish Dhawan spaceport shortly after midnight local time

London-based satellite company OneWeb is back on track with the launch of an additional 36 spacecraft for its global broadband internet system.

The platforms boarded a GSLV rocket from the island of Sriharikota in India.

OneWeb’s efforts to deploy its telecommunications network had been on hold since March, when it was forced to suspend the use of Russian Soyuz rockets.

Sunday’s flight brings the number of satellites now in orbit above the Earth to 462.

That’s over 70% of the total OneWeb needs to get worldwide coverage with its first generation constellation.

The company, part of which is owned by the British government, expects to complete the roll-out in the middle of next year.

Satellite OneWeb

OneWeb’s first-generation broadband network requires approximately 650 satellites for global service

The geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV), India’s largest and most capable rocket, took off from Satish Dhawan spaceport in Andhra Pradesh state at 12:07 am Sunday morning (7:37 pm BST, Saturday).

It took several hours to download all the satellites at an altitude of 600 km. It will take a few weeks for the spacecraft’s ion engines to take them to their 1,200 km operational polar orbits.

The situation for OneWeb looked very uncertain in March.

The company’s plans were thrown off course by the war in Ukraine.

The conflict, and the resulting Western sanctions against Russia, led the company to lose access to Russian Soyuz rockets.

With only two-thirds of its satellites in orbit, OneWeb had to move quickly to secure passage to other carriers. Agreements have been reached with American rocket suppliers SpaceX and Relativity Space and India’s New Space India Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian space agency, Isro, which markets the GSLV.

Florida factory

OneWeb intends to merge its operations with Paris-based Eutelsat

OneWeb already offers high-speed broadband connections to beta customers above 50 degrees north and south. This latest launch and another before the end of the year will bring coverage closer to the equator.

“We have to take these launches away that we are doing before Christmas, and this will allow us to activate the service from 25 degrees North and 25 degrees South. We will then complete the launch of the constellation by spring, which allows us to complete the global commercial service by. the end of next year, “said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb.

The big news since March has been the proposed merger between OneWeb and Eutelsat, based in Paris.

The French company operates telecommunications spacecraft higher in the sky in what is called a geostationary orbit, at an altitude of 36,000 km. It is one of the largest distributors of direct-to-home TV in the world.

The merger plan is currently moving through the competition and regulatory approval process.

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