LONDON — OneWeb has delayed the launch of the first batch of satellites built at the new Florida facility to late January to give time for additional checks on the spacecraft before shipment to Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Separately, OneWeb and its principal investor, SoftBank, said they would move to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Intelsat alleging fraud and theft of trade secrets and breach of contract: http://bit.ly/2kFXJP3
The launch of 34 150-kilogram OneWeb satellites aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur had been scheduled for mid-December.
OneWeb launched an initial six-satellite batch in February from Europe’s Guiana Space Center, on the northeast coast of South America, as part of a 21-launch contract with launch-service provider Arianespace of Europe.
These satellites were part of an initial production run of 10 spacecraft built at Airbus Defence and Space’s Toulouse, France, production facility. Airbus is a 50% owner, with OneWeb, of OneWeb Satellites.
The rest of the 648-plus satellite initial constellation of 150-kilogram Ku-band broadband satellites is being manufactured at a new OneWeb Satellites facility in Exploration Park, Florida. OneWeb said the launch delay was decided to give the company more time to make the necessary verifications on these satellites.
The company has told prospective investors and customers that it would be conducting Soyuz launches with Arianespace on a monthly basis starting in December, and that initial coverage of the Arctic region, including Alaska, would start in 2020.
Arianespace officials have said they are confident that Soyuz launches, from several Russian-controlled spaceports, can maintain a monthly OneWeb launch cadence in 2020.