SpaceX launches 40 OneWeb satellites into orbit, aces Rocket Landing

Thursday night (Dec. 8), SpaceX launched a large number of OneWeb internet satellites into orbit as part of a mission to support OneWeb’s competitor, which has its own mega constellation. This comes after Russia invaded Ukraine and disrupted OneWeb’s original launch plans.

On Thursday at 5:27 p.m. EST (2227 GMT), a Falcon9 rocket soared into orbit after carrying 40 OneWeb satellites from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The sunset gave the launch an extra bit of dazzle.

Cameras on the ground caught unbelievable views of the Falcon 9 as its first stage broke apart, then came back to Earth and made an accurate landing on a SpaceX pad close by Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Shortly after the landing, SpaceX propulsion engineer Youmei Zhou said during live launch commentary-

“We did just get back confirmation of a nominal orbital insertion,”

SpaceX successfully recovered the Falcon 9 first stage landing, their 145th successful rocket recovery. This particular booster had completed four launches and landings prior to this mission.

In the past, it has launched a SpaceX Dragon cargo mission for NASA to the International Space Station in December 2021, Eutelsat’s Hotbird 13F spacecraft this past October, and one set of SpaceX’s Starlink internet satellites.

All the while, the Falcon 9’s upper stage was transporting the OneWeb satellites into orbit. OneWeb announced their launch on Twitter after it happened saying-

“We have liftoff! Our 40 satellites have left the ground in Florida. Thanks to our colleagues at @SpaceX for a successful lift off.”

The Falcon 9 spacecraft deployed as planned, with three roughly equal sets beginning at 58 minutes post-launch and ending 30 minutes later.

OneWeb plans to have 648 spacecrafts in orbit providing broadband services, which gives them a potential edge over SpaceX’s Starlink. Arianespace has been helping OneWeb by operating Soyuz rockets that carry the company’s satellites into space–over 460 had already gone up before today.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, OneWeb’s original plan fell through, creating an opportunity that SpaceX and New Space India Limited (NSIL) quickly took advantage of.

On Oct. 21, India’s GSLV Mark III rocket lifted 36 OneWeb spacecraft in the first liftoff under the NSIL deal. Thursday’s launch marked SpaceX’s first mission with OneWeb and also meant that more than 500 satellites are now in orbit because of OneWeb–the latter being its first from Florida.

Although Thursday’s liftoff was planned for Tuesday, Elon Musk’s company pushed it back in order to perform more checks. With this being SpaceX’S 55th launch of 2022 already, additional safety measures are needed to ensure a successful mission.

Thursday’s mission officially marked the start of OneWeb’s new era in space. It looks like SpaceX is helping OneWeb on its mission to give everyone access to the internet anywhere in the world, anytime. It’s certainly inspiring to watch!

SpaceX is promising more missions, so keep your eyes on the sky as they continue to launch humanity further into space. This launch was an impressive reminder that SpaceX is now a leader in the space industry, and they’re making it easier and more affordable to explore the universe beyond our planet.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of a golden age of space exploration.

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