A Russia-based Arianespace Soyuz rocket has launched 36 new OneWeb internet satellites into orbit, expanding the company's broadband constellation.The spacecrafttook off from VostochnyCosmodrome in eastern Russia at 6:14 p.m. EDT (22:14 GMT or 7:14 a.m. local time on Monday, April 26). The satellites will fly to a near-polar orbit, joining a growing constellation at an altitude of roughly 280 miles.
All 36 satellites were successfully deployed by about four hours after launch, Arianespace representatives said."OneWeb's mission is to bring internet everywhere to everyone, by creating a global connectivity platform through a next-generation satellite constellation in low Earth orbit," launch provider Arianespace said in a statement.
With this ambitious project, the company is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in providing fast internet via satellites to the world's remotest areas."All satellites have been successfully placed in target orbits and have been taken under customer control," Roscosmos said in a statement.
The U.K.-based company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by around 650 satellites.OneWeb's first set of six satellites were also launched by a Russian-made Soyuz rocket in February 2019.The company launched 68 more from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan last year. The project has been has been lagging behind the schedule due to multiple controversies, including corruption.The service will be ready to start by the end of the year, with global service available in 2022.