A Soyuz rocket launched 36 new OneWeb Internet satellites into orbit from Russia early Thursday, October 14, pushing the communications provider halfway to completing its growing mega-constellation.
OneWeb satellites have soared into space on top of a Soyuz rocket of the Vostochny Cosmodrome as part of a mission operated by the French company Arianespace. Take-off has occurred at 5:40 a.m. EDT (9:40 a.m. GMT).
The spacecraft will deploy from the Soyuz in a near polar orbit at an altitude of 280 miles (450 kilometers), according to Arianespace representatives written in an assignment description. These deployments will be in batches of four satellites, the last of which will take place approximately 3 hours and 51 minutes after take-off.
The solar-powered satellites will then move on their own to their operational orbit, located 1,200 km above the Earth. They’ll have a lot of company up there; the constellation already consists of 322 spacecraft, all deployed by Arianespace.
And many more will join this group in the weeks and months to come. London-based OneWeb is building a constellation of 648 satellites, which will deliver high-speed internet service to people around the world.
“When deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, to provide high-speed access globally – by air, sea and land.” , wrote the representatives of Arianespace in the description of the mission.
OneWeb plans to start providing such a service to northern regions of the planet by the end of this year, with global coverage expected to follow in 2022.
The company will have some competition for this product. For example, SpaceX has already launched more than 1,700 of its Star link broadband satellites (with many more to come) and is currently testing network service. And Amazon plans to create its own constellation of internet satellites, although none of those spacecraft have left the ground to date.
Correction: A previous version of this story distorted the cosmodrome used to launch the OneWeb 11 mission. It is the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, not the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about finding alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Where Facebook.