Intensive prelaunch preparations of the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with the Fregat upper stage and OneWeb spacecraft are underway at the Vostochny Cosmodrome. On March 1, a special aircraft with secondary equipment and two foreign customer’s spacecraft dispensers has arrived to the Ignatyevo airport of Blagoveschensk.
Vostoсhny Space Center (TsENKI branch, part of Roscosmos) specialists accepted the cargo, unloaded it, loaded onto vehicles and transported it to Vostochny Technical Complex. Branch workers also unloaded the equipment at blocks warehouse. Dispenser is an integral part of ascent unit between the upper stage and spacecraft.
The day before, on February 26, the second batch of OneWeb spacecraft (jointly owned by the UK Government and Bharti Global) was delivered to the Cosmodrome. At the technical complex, the spacecraft are now being prepared for the launch on the Soyuz-2.1b launch vehicle and the Fregat upper stage. The launch is scheduled for March 2021.
This launch will became the second fully commercial launch from the Vostochny Cosmodrome. It is conducted by European launch service supplier Arianespace for OneWeb Company. Glavkosmos (a subsidiary of Roscosmos) provides the launch of the OneWeb spacecraft using the Soyuz launch vehicle under the contracts with the European launch services provider Arianespace and the Russian-French company Starsem.
Today the OneWeb low Earth orbit fleet of satellites has 110 spacecraft, and hundreds of others are to be launched. The first batch of six satellites was launched on February 28, 2019 from the Guiana Space Center (French Guiana) on a Soyuz-ST and a Fregat booster. On February 8 and March 22, 2020 two launches of Soyuz-2.1b and Fregat boosters with 34 satellites each were conducted from Baikonur. The upcoming launch should bring the number of OneWeb spacecraft in orbit to 146. OneWeb low Earth orbit spacecraft are designed to provide consumers on the ground with high-speed Internet directly through satellite communications.