Russia launches new batch of UK telecom satellites into space

Russia launches new batch of UK telecom satellites into space

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The Moscow Space Agency of Russia said that on Monday, a Soyuz rocket was launched from Vostokny International Airport in the Russian Far East, carrying 36 British Telecom and Internet satellites.

OneWeb, headquartered in London, is working to complete the construction of a low-Earth orbit satellite constellation that will provide countries around the world with enhanced broadband and other services.

The company is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the race to provide fast internet via satellites for the world’s remote areas.

Images released by Russia’s space agency Roscosmos showed the Soyuz rocket taking off against hazy skies Monday morning at 7:14 am local time (2214 GMT).

“All satellites have been successfully placed in target orbits and have been taken under customer control,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

“Mission success!” OneWeb wrote on Twitter.

The British company plans to start operating its global commercial Internet service next year with the support of approximately 650 satellites.

Monday’s launch was the third batch of satellites to enter orbit from Russia. The earlier launches of the Vostokni spacecraft were 36 satellites each, which were launched last month and December.

The first six satellites of OneWeb were also launched by a Russian-made Soyuz rocket, which took off from the Space Center in Kuru, French Guiana in February 2019.

The company launched another 68 from the Baikanour launch site in Kazakhstan last year.

The Vostochny launch site is one of Russia’s most important space projects, designed to reduce reliance on the Baikonur space centre Moscow currently rents from Kazakhstan.

The project has been consistently behind schedule, with its construction marred for years by multiple controversies including corruption.

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