Starlink Competitor OneWeb Targets First 34 Satellites in February 2020

OneWeb is competitor to the SpaceX Starlink satellite system. OneWeb successfully launched 6 test satellites and plans a February 7, 2020 Soyuz launch of its first 34 commercial satellites.

OneWeb plans a 600 satellite system with 48 spare satellites. OneWeb would need 18 successful Soyuz launches to deploy their satellites. The first launch was already delayed from November 2019. They have ordered 21 Soyuz launches from Arianespace. They hope to get all the satellites up by the end of 2021.

OneWeb is around one year behind SpaceX. SpaceX now has 180 production satellites in orbit. SpaceX is four successful launches from a minimum coverage system and ten from moderate coverage. SpaceX should have minimum coverage by April 2020 and moderate coverage by the middle of 2020. SpaceX should have full 1600 phase 1 coverage around the first quarter of 2021.

The satellites in the OneWeb constellation are approximately 150 kg (330 lb) in mass. The OneWeb satellites will be 18 polar orbit planes at 1,200 kilometers (750 mi) altitude.

The SpaceX Starlink satellites are in 500-550 kilometer orbits.

The satellites will operate in the Ku band, communicating in the microwave range of frequencies in the 12–18 GHz portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The user terminal antenna on the ground will be a phased array antenna measuring approximately 36 by 16 centimeters (14.2 by 6.3 in) and will provide Internet access at 50 megabits/second downlink bandwidth.

In 2015, Samsung announced a 4600-satellite constellation orbiting at 1,400 kilometers (900 mi) that would have 200 gigabytes per month of internet data for the total system. Amazon announced a large broadband internet satellite constellation in April 2019, planning to launch 3,236 satellites in the next decade. Amazon calls it Project Kuiper.

Samsung and Amazon have no launches scheduled.

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