A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted into space on Saturday, carrying 34 new satellites blast from British operator Oneweb, which aims to provide broadband internet in the world.

Operated by Europe’s Arianespace, the rocket took off at 10:13 pm GMT from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Roscosmos space agency said in a statement.

All 34 spacecraft — which together weigh 12,165 pounds (5,518 kilograms) — separated as planned from the Soyuz by three hours and 45 minutes after launch, Arianespace representatives said via Twitter. The satellites deployed into a near-polar orbit 280 miles (450 kilometers) above Earth, then will migrate over the coming weeks to their operational orbit, which features an altitude of 746 miles (1,200 km).

It was the fifth launch of OneWeb satellites this year, with the last one on July 1 but Satellites Blast.

OneWeb is working to develop a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries worldwide.

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 nearly two decades, is under contract to make 16 Soyuz launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022.

Arianespace and Roscosmos webcast the launch, which lit up the predawn sky over Baikonur, but the live video feed from Arianespace ended shortly after liftoff. Roscosmos updates on Twitter stated that the Soyuz and its Fregat upper stage were performing as expected during the hours-long trip to spacecraft separation.

There are now 288 OneWeb satellites in space, all of them launched by Arianespace over nine different missions. And OneWeb is far from done. The London-based company, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy late last year, eventually intends to operate about 650 broadband spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

“Central to its purpose, OneWeb seeks to bring connectivity to every unconnected area where fiber cannot reach, and thereby bridge the digital divide,” Arianespace representatives wrote in a description of Saturday’s mission.

“Once deployed, the OneWeb constellation will enable user terminals that are capable of offering 3G, LTE, 5G and Wi-Fi coverage, providing high-speed access globally — by air, sea and land,” Arianespace added.

If all goes according to plan, OneWeb will begin providing internet service by the end of 2021 to some of Earth’s northern regions, including northern Europe, Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Iceland, according to Arianespace’s mission description. Global coverage will follow as the constellation is built out.

OneWeb faces some competition in the satellite internet business. For example, SpaceX has already launched more than 1,700 satellites for its Starlink broadband constellation, whose service is already in the beta-testing phase. And Amazon plans to launch about 3,200 broadband satellites for its Project Kuiper constellation, though none of those spacecraft have left the ground to date.

With this latest mission, a total of 288 satellites are now in orbit for the constellation.

Source CGTN

By Arsalan Ahmad

Arsalan Ahmad is a Research Engineer working on 2-D Materials, graduated from the Institute of Advanced Materials, Bahaudin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan.LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/arsalanahmad-materialsresearchengr/