Space

OneWeb limits the size of the future constellation of satellites

Summary

OneWeb says the size of a planned next-generation satellite constellation initially expected to have about 48,000 satellites is dramatically diminishing. “OneWeb requested approval to change a proposal filed in May proposing to deploy 47,844 satellites for its “Stage Two” constellation […]

OneWeb says the size of a planned next-generation satellite constellation initially expected to have about 48,000 satellites is dramatically diminishing. “OneWeb requested approval to change a proposal filed in May proposing to deploy 47,844 satellites for its “Stage Two” constellation in a January 12 filing with Federal Communications Commission. The organization is considering a system of 6,372 satellites instead.

In a January 13 report, the revised constellation, OneWeb stated, “shows the determination and vision” of its current owners, the British government, as well as Indian telecommunications company Bharti Global, for “launching a cost-effective, accountable and innovative satellite network to provide global broadband.” The initial Phase Two proposal sent to the FCC envisaged a scheme of 32 planes of the 720 satellites, every 40 degrees inclined, 32 planes of the 720 satellites, each 55 degrees inclined, as well as 36 planes of the 49 satellites, every 87.9 degrees inclined, for a sum of 47,844 satellites, all 1,200 kilometers high in space.

These will be in addition to its original constellation of around 650 satellites currently being deployed by the corporation, which is not influenced by the planned reform. The revised scheme maintains the same orbital plane total and structure but minimizes the number of satellites from around 720 to 72 in every 40-degree and 55-degree plane. In 87.9-degree orbital planes, the satellites are unaffected, decreasing the maximum device size to around 6,372 satellites.

“For its Phase 2 constellation, OneWeb intends this revised launch plan to allow it to produce a better end-user performance as well as spectral efficiency while decreasing financing needs and promoting the ‘Responsible Space’ vision of OneWeb,” the organization has said in an FCC filing. “This modification is an essential part of the OneWeb’s dedication to maintaining the orbital environment that supports the lengthy use of the space for all.” OneWeb requested the FCC to deem the modification “minor” under its guidelines for determining preference for different applications while helping to reduce the constellation scale by more than 85 percent.

The corporation said no other improvements are being made to the scheme, such as frequency assignments, so “this expected decrease in satellites will not raise the potential disruption” with other networks. How severe OneWeb was also in its initial plan for the launch of almost 48,000 satellites is not clear. While it was in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and halted the introduction of the first-generation device, the corporation filed the request. The launch continued in December after the firm, under its current owner, arising from Chapter 11.

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