OneWeb is a space-based internet company owned by the British government and an Indian-British company since July 2020.
Based in London, the company is building a satellite constellation with the goal of providing high-speed broadband services to people around the globe.
Originally named WorldVu, the first six test OneWebs of a then-planned 1,240 satellite constellation were launched from South America in February 2019 on a Russian Soyuz rocket purchased by Europe's Arianespace launch services corporation.
After the first mission, operational OneWeb satellites began launching in batches of 34 or 36 on Soyuz rockets provided by Arianespace and Starsem, the part of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) that handles commercial flights of the Soyuz.
All of those Arianespace-Starsem missions have launched either from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan or the Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia.
In May 2020, while in bankruptcy and before its purchase by the British government, OneWeb asked the Federal Communications Commission in the United States (a controlling authority for OneWeb) to increase the number of satellites in the constellation from 1,240 to 47,844.
In January 2021, OneWeb amended the request down to just 6,372 satellites for the constellation.
The entire OneWeb network will operate in a 1,200 km orbit and will provide global internet service. However, the British government has been quick to limit access to the service.
Picture: OneWeb satellites ready for launch in early 2020. Credit: OneWeb
Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond. Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. Reusability allows SpaceX to refly the most expensive parts of the rocket, which in turn drives down the cost of space access.
Total launches: 200
Total landings: 158
Total reflights: 136
The Falcon 9 has launched 30 humans to orbit since May 2020
Height: 70 m / 229.6 ft
Diameter: 3.7 m / 12 ft
Mass: 549,054 kg / 1,207,920 lb
Payload to LEO: 22,800 kg / 50,265 lb
Payload to GTO: 8,300 kg / 18,300 lb
Payload to Mars: 4,020 kg / 8,860 lb
On January 24, 2021, Falcon 9 launched the first ride-share mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit. It was delivering a record-setting 143 satellites to space. And while this was an important mission for SpaceX in itself, it was also the moment Falcon 9 overtook United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V for the total number of consecutive successful launches.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had become America’s workhorse rocket, launching 31 times in 2021. It has already beaten that record this year, launching almost an average of once a week. While most of the launches deliver Starlink satellites to orbit, the company is still launching the most commercial payloads to orbit, too.
Falcon 9 is a medium-lift launch vehicle, with the capability to launch over 22.8 metric tonnes to low earth orbit. Unlike any other rocket, its first stage lands back on Earth after separating from its second stage. In part, this allows SpaceX to offer the cheapest option for most customers with payloads that need to reach orbit.
Under its ride-share program, a kilogram can be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit for a mere 1.1 million dollars, far cheaper than all other currently operating small satellite launch vehicles.
The reusability and fast booster turnaround times have made Falcon 9 the preferred choice for private companies and government agencies. This has allowed SpaceX to capture a huge portion of the launch market.
Image: Erik Kuna for Supercluster
NASA's historic Kennedy Space Center is located on Cape Canaveral, Florida, and has hosted decades of historic space missions since the early days of the Apollo program.
Today, Kennedy Space Center is a multi-user spaceport and hosts private companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, and others.
SpaceX leases Launch Complex 39A at NASA's flagship facility and uses the pad to launch its Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9 rockets. The pad is also used to launch missions for the Commercial Crew Program for which SpaceX launches astronauts to the Space Station for NASA aboard their Crew Dragon capsule.
Launch Complex 39A was previously used by NASA to launch the Apollo 11 mission to land the first humans on the moon and Space Shuttle missions to assemble the International Space Station and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image: Jenny Hautmann for Supercluster
Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) is an 86 meter wide circular landing pad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and is one of two SpaceX booster landing pads at the Florida spaceport.
Built on former Launch Complex 13, LZ-1 was the site of SpaceX's first successful landing and recovery of a Falcon 9 on the ORBCOMM-2 mission in December 2015. Since then, it has hosted 16 landings.
The landing pad, as well as its twin, LZ-2 located a few dozen meters away, can support both single landings of a Falcon 9 or simultaneous landings of the two Falcon Heavy side boosters.
Photo: Jenny Hautmann for Supercluster