On Monday, January 9, SpaceX launched another fleet of competitor OneWeb’s broadband satellites. OneWeb is a broadband company headquartered in London that aims to complete building a constellation of at least 648 internet-beaming satellites. The company has faced multiple challenges these past couple of years, it faced bankruptcy in 2020 and it was rescued by the United Kingdom government in November 2021. OneWeb relied on Russia’s Soyuz rocket operated by Arianespace to deploy satellites to orbit; it launched a total of 502 in the past years. However, when Russia engaged in war with the entire country of Ukraine in February 2021, Arianespace had to end its partnership with Russia which forced OneWeb to select SpaceX as a launch provider, as well as NewSpace India Limited.
Last year, Amazon Kuiper, ViaSat, and OneWeb satellite companies became SpaceX’s rival when they opposed SpaceX’s plans to modify the operational altitude of around two thousand Starlink satellites. Now, OneWeb and SpaceX left their past issues behind to ‘inspire global cooperation,’ as their previous mission badge stated. In early-December, SpaceX launched OneWeb’s ‘Launch #15’ which deployed 40 satellites to orbit. Tonight, SpaceX deployed 40 more OneWeb satellites as part of the company’s ‘Launch #16’ mission. A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 11:50 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It is the second time SpaceX launches a OneWeb mission.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/xYOwyBucPi— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 10, 2023
Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9 first-stage booster returned from orbit with a touchdown on Landing Zone-1. It marked SpaceX’s 162nd landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 137th time it reused a Falcon 9’s first-stage. It was the second launch and landing of the particular booster, identified as B1076-2, which previously supported SpaceX’s 26th NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-26) mission to the International Space Station.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on Landing Zone 1 pic.twitter.com/W8qvmOyaBP— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 10, 2023
The fleet of 40 OneWeb satellites was deployed in a separate sequence around 53-minutes after liftoff. The deployment operation was completed over the course of around 37-minutes. OneWeb shared a video of satellites being released from Falcon 9’s upper-stage, linked below. The satellites will use their onboard thrusters to maneuver into their operational orbits at an altitude of around 1,200 kilometers (km) above Earth. OneWeb’s satellites are still significantly higher than the ~550 km orbit that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites operate in. When OneWeb’s constellation is complete, it expects to see internet speeds of 50Mbps to 200Mbps (megabits per second).
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX
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.