OneWeb is a broadband satellite startup headquartered in London. It became SpaceX’s rival in 2021 when Amazon Kuiper and ViaSat satellite companies engaged in a legal battle against SpaceX’s plans to modify the operational altitude of around 2,800 Starlink satellites. OneWeb also opposed SpaceX's plans to build the Starlink broadband constellation due to “satellite collision concerns” in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Now, the companies are collaborating and leaving their past issues behind. Last week, OneWeb jokingly posted a video of clicking 'Follow' on SpaceX's Twitter profile then announced it paid for SpaceX's launch provider services to get its broadband system to orbit. –“Inspiring Global Cooperation,” says the mission badge which features SpaceX’s and OneWeb’s company logos, pictured below. "[...] We wanted to reflect on the patch for this mission with SpaceX. Launch #15 - and this mission patch - celebrate vital co-operation in space, alongside our purpose to show that connection everywhere changes everything," wrote OneWeb representatives.
As we move closer toward launch, we wanted to reflect on the patch for this mission with @SpaceX.— OneWeb (@OneWeb) December 8, 2022
Launch #15 - and this mission patch - celebrate vital co-operation in space, alongside our purpose to show that connection everywhere changes everything.#OneWebLaunch15 🚀 pic.twitter.com/lAWnW7S55e
SpaceX launched competitor OneWeb's broadband satellites today, Thursday, December 8. A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:27 p.m. ET from Launch Complex-39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A total of 40 OneWeb internet-beaming satellites were deployed to LEO. "Thanks to our colleagues at SpaceX for a successful lift off. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the mission," said OneWeb. SpaceX shared incredible footage of the rocket's stage separation as it was flying to orbit.
We have lift off! Our 40 satellites have left the ground in Florida.— OneWeb (@OneWeb) December 8, 2022
Thanks to our colleagues at @SpaceX for a successful lift off. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the mission.#OneWebLaunch15 🚀 pic.twitter.com/VKfkaS86mC
Stage separation pic.twitter.com/OLV2aXVsbY— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 8, 2022
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster that performed this mission is identified as B1069-4; It previously launched three missions, including: SpaceX's Dragon 24th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-24) mission to the International Space Station for NASA, Eutelsat's HOTBIRD 13F mission, and one Starlink batch deployment. Approximately eight minutes after liftoff, the booster landed on Landing Zone 1 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. It is the B1069-4 booster's fourth landing and SpaceX’s 154th landing of an orbital-class rocket. SpaceX is currently the only aerospace company in the world capable of reliably recovering and reusing rockets. To date, it has reflown first-stage boosters 128 times.
Falcon 9's first stage has landed pic.twitter.com/0JxddJt5Sd— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 8, 2022
OneWeb’s 40 satellites were released from Falcon 9's upper-stage nearly two hours after liftoff. The company shared a video of the satellites' deployment sequence (linked below). "All forty satellites have successfully separated and now we wait as our team works to confirm contact with all our spacecraft," they announced. OneWeb says it is on track to deliver global coverage in 2023. “This launch will add another 40 satellites to OneWeb’s LEO satellite fleet, and complete almost 80% of its first-generation constellation of 648 satellites that will deliver global wholesale connectivity for its partners. This milestone mission marks OneWeb’s first time launching from Florida, where its satellites are also produced by OneWeb Satellites – a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus.”
The 40 newly deployed satellites will enable OneWeb to expand internet service across the USA, Europe, and much of the Middle East and Asia, "representing all points north of the 35th parallel. The expansion of the OneWeb fleet will also enable coverage between the South Pole and the 35th parallel south, opening up connectivity services in Southern Australia, South Africa and parts of South America."
"OneWeb’s connectivity solutions are already active in Alaska, Canada, the UK, Greenland, and the wider Arctic area to provide internet connectivity to unserved and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses," said the company in a press release.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Broadcast
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.