Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb internet satellites into orbit

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket launched dozens of new internet satellites into orbit Monday (Dec. 27) to boost a growing megaconstellation by service provider OneWeb.

The Russian-built Soyuz rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 8:10 a.m. EST (1310 GMT). The flight comes just two days after an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launched NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope into space on Christmas from Kourou, French Guiana and just ahead of the New Year, closing out Arianespace’s launch manifest for 2021.

It’s “a special time of the year for a very special flight,” Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said via a video message during a launch webcast. The launch was Arianespace’s 15th of 2021 and the last of the year, he added.

Video: Watch the Soyuz rocket’s OneWeb 12 mission launch!
In photos: OneWeb launches new global satellite internet constellation

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket launches 36 OneWeb internet satellites into orbit from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 27, 2021. (Image credit: OneWeb)

Monday’s launch marked the eighth launch of the year for OneWeb, which now has 394 of its internet satellites in orbit. If all goes well, the 36 new satellites will be deployed in an initial orbit 280 miles (450 kilometers) above Earth about 3 hours, 45 minutes after liftoff. They’ll then head off to a final orbit more than 621miles (1,000 km) above Earth.