Russia will provide 21 Soyuz launch vehicles for putting OneWeb communication satellites into orbit, Roscosmos has said.
"This contract is the biggest in the history of launch services. The choice of Soyuz rockets is a proof of high competitiveness of Russian rocket and space hardware," the agency press service has quoted Roscosmos head Igor Komarov as saying.
According to Roscosmos, Arianespace (Evry, France) and OneWeb (the Jersey Island, UK) announced in London on June 25, 2015, the signing of a contract for the launch of OneWeb mobile communication satellites by use of 21 Soyuz launch vehicles in the period from 2017 till 2019.
The payload is small-sized satellites of up to 150 kilograms with a Ku-band phased-array antenna. The contract stipulates the launch of 672 satellites of the constellation to the target circumpolar orbit with an altitude of 1,200 kilometers in cluster launches of up to 5.5 tonnes per payload. Satellites for the demonstration launch scheduled for the end of 2017 will be built by the principal enterprise of the corporation, Airbus Defense and Space, in Toulouse, and the others will be constructed by the joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus Defense and Space at a production facility in Florida, the United States.
The fulfillment of these plans will take 21 launches of Soyuz vehicles, and at least 15 of them will be performed from Baikonur and Russian spaceports.
If the project is successful, the contract has an option for at least five additional Soyuz missions after 2020.
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