Update for 1:23 p.m. EDT: A Soyuz rocket has successfully launched 34 OneWeb internet satellites into orbit. They will be deployed into their initial orbits over the next several hours. Read our full story here.
An Arianespace Soyuz rocket will launch more than 30 new OneWeb internet satellites into orbit today (March 21) and you can watch it all live online.
The Russian-built Soyuz 2.1b rocket is scheduled to launch 34 OneWeb broadband satellites into orbit at 1:06 p.m. EDT (1706 GMT) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. You’ll can watch the liftoff live here at Space.com, courtesy of a OneWeb Facebook feed, or directly via the company’s Facebook page.
An Arianespace Soyuz 2.1 rocket stands atop its launchpad at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to launch 34 OneWeb communications satellites. Liftoff is set for March 21, 2020. (Image credit: Roscosmos)
Today’s launch will mark the third flight for OneWeb’s internet satellite constellation and the second this year. The first six satellites launched in February 2019, with another 34 satellites lifting off last month.
Ultimately, OneWeb aims to launch at least 650 satellite into low Earth orbit to form a constellation designed to provide internet service to customers around the world. But OneWeb has a long way to go before reaching that goal. Today’s launch will bring the constellation up to 74 satellites. OneWeb has dedicated the launch to the late Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, who became the first person ever to walk in space 55 years ago this month. Leonov died last October at age 85.
OneWeb has dedicated its third broadband satellite launch to the memory of the world’s first spacewalker, cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. The launch comes 55 years after Leonov’s spacewalk. (Image credit: OneWeb)
OneWeb is just one of several companies working to build a megaconstellation of broadband internet satellites. SpaceX, the company founded by Elon Musk, has already launched 360 satellites for its Starlink constellation and aims to loft at least 12,000 for its baseline constellation.
Amazon has plans for its own network, called Project Kuiper, but has not yet begun launches.
Today’s launch calls for the Soyuz 2.1b booster to launch OneWeb’s satellites into a polar orbit 280 miles (450 kilometers) above Earth. The satellites will eventually head to a final orbit 745 miles (1,200 km) above Earth.