A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying 36 UK telecommunication and internet satellites blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Thursday, the Roscosmos space agency said.
Images released by Roscosmos showed the Soyuz rocket, launched by Europe’s Arianespace, taking off against dark skies at 1248 GMT.
“We have lift-off,” OneWeb, a London-headquartered company, said on Twitter.
OneWeb is working to complete the construction of a constellation of low earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.
The company is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the race to provide fast internet for the world’s remote areas via satellites.
The UK company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites.
Arianespace, which has worked with Russia for close to two decades, is under contract to make 16 Soyuz launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022.
This year launches of 36 satellites took place in March, April and May.
“Taking our constellation to a total of 254 satellites, this launch will allow us to provide complete coverage north of 50 degrees latitude by the end of the 2021,” OneWeb said.
© 2021 AFP
Russian rocket launches UK telecom satellites (2021, July 1)
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