Science/Tech

34 Internet Satellites Launched By OneWeb To Boost Broadband Megaconstellation

Besides SpaceX’s developing Starlink, another internet-satellite megaconstellation is starting to take shape, courtesy of OneWeb.

Internet Satellites

This is because per a new report, a Soyuz rocket carrying 34 OneWeb broadband satellites lifted off Thursday, February 6, from  Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, officially taking off at  4:42 p.m. EST (2142 GMT; 2:42 a.m. on Feb. 7 local time). 

Operated by the French company Arianespace, the Soyuz reportedly deployed all of the satellites 3 hours and 45 minutes at an altitude of 280 miles (450 kilometers) after launch, as planned. From there, the 325-lb. (147 kilograms) satellites will then make their own way to their operational orbit, which lies about 745 miles (1,200 km) just above our planet Earth.

“We're excited to share that the launch of 34 satellites today was a success! We are on schedule to provide global coverage to customers in 2021, starting with the first commercial services in the Arctic this year,” OneWeb tweeted in celebration of the launch.

While the latest launch is OneWeb’s second, it’s the first that carried such a lofty load of satellites since the previous one that launched back in February of last year only carried six satellites. However, the launch cadence will significantly ramp up soon because OneWeb has already called for 19 additional liftoffs through the end of 2021. Per the company, these missions will flesh out its initial constellation of around 650 satellites, which will  "will provide high-speed, low latency services to a wide range of customers in sectors that include aeronautics, maritime, backhaul services, community Wi-Fi, emergency response services and more."

"Central to its mission, OneWeb also will focus on connecting schools and bridging the digital divide for people everywhere," the company added.

Running its offices in both London and Virgina, the company plans on launching a test basis for their internet service sometime this year and fully launch it come 2021.

However, OneWeb isn’t the only company that’s entering the megaconstellation business. SpaceX, for example, has already launched 240 satellites for its Starlink service, while Amazon is already envisioning plans for its Project Kuiper, which sees around 3,000 satellites up in orbit.

Starlink satellite cluster aboard a Falcon 9 A few of the 60 Starlink satellites before deployment into LEO SpaceX

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