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

AMUR REGION, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 27, 2018: A Soyuz-2.1a rocket booster with a Fregat-M upper stage block lifts off from the Vostochny Cosmodrome to deliver Russia's Kanopus-V No 5 and No 6 remote sensing satellites and 26 foreign spacecraft to orbit. Yuri Smityuk/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

VOSTOPCHNY SPACEPORT, May 28, 2021, TASS. A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a Fregat booster and 36 British OneWeb communications satellites has been launched from the Vostochny spaceport in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region, a TASS correspondent reported on Friday (May 28).

The Fregat booster carrying the communications satellites will separate from the rocket’s third stage nine minutes after the launch. The satellites will separate in several stages, with the entire process taking 3 hours and 51 minutes.

This was the seventh launch of OneWeb satellites and the fourth purely commercial launch from Vostochny. With these satellites in orbit, the OneWeb constellation will reach 218.

The launch was initially scheduled for May 27 but was postponed for a later date due to minor problems detected by automatic sensors. Later, Arianespace, the launch operator, said the carrier rocket’s electrical equipment needed to be replaced before the launch.

The first six OneWeb satellites were orbited by a Soyuz-ST carrier rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on February 28, 2019. Another 34 satellites were delivered into outer space on February 7, 2020 and the same amount on March 21 from the Baikonur spaceport.

On April 26, Director General of Russia’s Roscosmos state space agency Dmitry Rogozin reported that 36 British OneWeb communication satellites, launched from the Vostochny spaceport on a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket, have been put into orbit.

OneWeb satellites were launched from the Vostochny spaceport for the first time in December 2020. A total of 36 space vehicles were put into orbit. Overall, the UK company intends to deliver around 600 satellites into a near-Earth orbit.

OneWeb’s renewed agreement with the French Arianespace that acts as the launch operator stipulates the lift-off of 16 Russian Soyuz carrier rockets from the Kourou, Vostochny and Baikonur spaceports in 2020-2022. Each launch can put between 34-36 OneWeb satellites into orbit.

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