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Soyuz 2.1b carrier rocket with OneWeb satellites launched from Vostochny spaceport

 A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a Fregat booster and 36 OneWeb British communications satellites has been launched from the Vostochny spaceport, a TASS correspondent reported from the site on Friday.

The booster with the satellites separated from the rocket’s third stage and it will take about four hours to put the satellites in orbit. The satellites will be separating in nine stages, four at a time.

It is the first launch of OneWeb satellites from the Vostochny spaceport and the first purely commercial launch from this space center.

The first six OneWeb satellites were launched by a Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou space center in French Guiana on February 28, 2019 and put in orbit on the same day. Two more launches were carried out this year from the Baikonur space center: 34 satellites were lifted into orbit on February 7, and 34 more satellites on March 21. In all, the company plans to deploy about 600 satellites.

The first launch of OneWeb satellites from the Vostochny spaceport was initially scheduled for April but the British company had to lodge a bankruptcy and reorganization petition in the United States in March when it had failed to receive about two billion US dollars from investors. In July, the British government passed a decision to invest in its authorized capital to have control over OneWeb. The company acquisition was over in November.

Under the updated agreement with Arianespace, a French operator, 16 Russian Soyuz carrier rockets are to be launched from Kourou, Vostochny and Baikonur in 2020-2022 to put in orbit from 34 to 36 satellites at a time.

[Source: Tass, Moscow, 18Dec20]

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