February 23, 2020

Soyuz rolls out to launch pad with OneWeb satellites


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A Soyuz-2.1b booster loaded with 34 satellites for OneWeb’s global Internet network rolled out of its assembly building Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and rode a rail car to its launch pad for final preflight checks before liftoff Thursday.

The Soyuz rocket is set for liftoff at 2142 GMT (4:42 p.m. EST) Thursday from Complex 31 at Baikonur, the historic Russian-operated launch base on the Kazakh steppe. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:42 a.m. local time Friday at Baikonur to begin a four-hour launch sequence to deploy the 34 U.S.-made satellites into orbit some 280 miles (450 kilometers) above Earth.

A Fregat upper stage mounted atop the Soyuz booster will deliver the 34 OneWeb satellites to the proper orbit for separation.

The launch, booked by OneWeb with Arianespace, marks the first for OneWeb with a full load of satellites. A Soyuz mission from French Guiana in February 2019 carried six technology demonstration satellites into orbit to test their performance before OneWeb proceeded with up to 20 launches over the next two years to build out the global broadband network.

In these photos, the Soyuz payload fairing containing the 34 OneWeb satellites is covered in a thermal blanket, which ground teams will remove prior to launch.

Read our full story for details on the mission.

Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos
Credit: Roscosmos

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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