A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent the SES-12 telecommunications satellite into orbit tonight in a no-drama night launch. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida came at 12:45 a.m. ET May 4 (9:45 p.m. PT May 3). The Airbus-built satellite, which relies on electric propulsion, will boost SES’ video and data services in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.
O3b was set up a decade ago to provide internet access to the “Other 3 Billion” in the world who have been left out because they’re too remote or too poor to get connected. Last year, SES took over majority ownership of O3b Networks, which currently has 12 first-generation satellites in a 5,000-mile-high orbit.
Eight more of the first-generation satellites, also built by Boeing, are to be launched in 2018 and 2019 on Russian-built Soyuz rockets by the European Arianespace consortium. Boeing’s next-generation O3b mPower satellites are due to go into orbit starting in 2021.