OneWeb’s first broadband satellites are launched

Soyuz launch for OneWeb
A Russian-built Soyuz rocket lifts off from Arianespace’s launch complex in French Guiana, sending the first six satellites of OneWeb’s broadband constellation into space. (Arianespace via YouTube)

A Russian-built, European-launched Soyuz rocket sent the first six satellites of OneWeb’s broadband data constellation into orbit today, kicking off a years-long campaign aimed at making high-speed internet connections available to billions of people around the world.

Liftoff marked the latest milestone for the international OneWeb consortium, which is locked in a satellite broadband race with SpaceX, Telesat and other high-profile ventures. Such satellite constellations promise to provide global high-speed data services for applications ranging from emergency response to community Wi-Fi and ubiquitous voice and streaming-video coverage.

After years of preparation, today’s launch went off without a hitch at Arianespace’s launch complex in French Guiana, on South America’s east coast. Over the course of more than an hour, OneWeb’s first 325-pound satellites were deployed into 625-mile-high (1,000-kilometer-high) orbits from a cylindrical dispenser that’s been compared to a corncob.

“Tonight is a full success,” Arianespace CEO Stephane Israël declared.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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