MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The first-ever test launch of OneWeb satellites on a Russian-made Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana is preliminarily scheduled for February 7, 2019, a source in the rocket and space industry told Sputnik on Wednesday.
OneWeb aims to launch almost 900 satellites to provide Intenet broadband service to millions of consumers.
«The first qualifying launch under the OneWeb program is set to be made from the Kourou spaceport. Ten satellites are expected to be launched on the Soyuz-ST carrier rocket with the Fregat-MT upper stage. The approximate launch date is February 7, 2019,» the source said.
Also in 2019, around the end of summer or the beginning of fall, a series of launches of OneWeb satellites from Baikonur cosmodrome will begin, according to the source. A total of 10 launches of Soyuz-2.1b carrier rockets with Fregat-M upper stages are planned, with 34-36 satellites being sent to space each time. The launches will be completed by the second quarter of 2020.
After that, a series of six launches from the Vostochny cosmodrome is expected to be held in the second and third quarters of 2020.
Another launch in 2019 and three launches in 2020 are also preliminarily scheduled for the Kourou spaceport, the source added.
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«In case of successful implementation of the program, the number of OneWeb satellites in space will exceed 300 units in the beginning of 2020, which will make the group workable, and the system will begin to provide ‘space Internet’ services. By the end of 2020, the system will be fully configured and will include about 700 satellites,» the source added.