OneWeb launches satellites for global internet coverage

OneWeb satellite launch Image credit: ISRO

London-headquartered OneWeb has launched 36 satellites to expand its internet coverage worldwide.

The 36 OneWeb satellites were launched by NewSpace India Limited from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India yesterday.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, executive chairman of OneWeb, said: “In my work I have seen the power of connectivity to bring benefits to all, wherever they are. Yet half the world’s population does not have access to fast, reliable connectivity. Today’s launch represents a major step towards closing the digital divide.”

The latest launch now brings the company’s internet satellite constellation to 618, more than the target of 588. Extra satellites will be used by OneWeb to provide backup and durability.

OneWeb is a competitor to Elon Musk’s internet satellite company Starlink and Amazon’s Project Kuiper. The satellite company already offers its internet service for areas above 50 degrees latitude.

The launch comes less than three years after OneWeb was protected from bankruptcy through government funding.

Michelle Donelan, secretary of state for science, innovation and technology, said: “We invested in OneWeb’s vision to bridge the global digital divide, and our burgeoning space sector is transforming the UK into the perfect base for likeminded companies to realise their stratospheric potential.”

Shareholders in OneWeb include the UK government, Softbank and Bharti Global.

Completion of OneWeb’s internet constellation comes after it decided to merge with French satellite operator Eutelsat in July.