Russia lifts UK telecom satellites into orbit

Russia lifts UK telecom satellites into orbit

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Moscow: The Russian Federation Space Agency said that on Friday, a Soyuz rocket was launched from the Vostokini spacecraft in the Russian Far East, putting 36 British Telecom and Internet satellites into orbit.

Roscos Moss told AFP that this was the first launch from the space capsule this year and the only launch.

The space agency said the rocket took off at 1226 GMT and carried a satellite made by the British company OneWeb.

Nearly five hours later space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin said that all the satellites had reached their intended orbit.

“The mission has been successfully completed. Congratulations!” he said on Twitter.

Originally planned for April, the launch was delayed after OneWeb collapsed and was forced to declare bankruptcy.

Last month, the UK government and Indian telecommunications giant Bharti took control of the company, investing $500 million a piece.

The London-based company 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 first six satellites of OneWeb were launched by a Russian-made Soyuz rocket from the Space Center in Kuru, French Guiana in February 2019.

The company launched another 34 from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan in February of this year, and then launched another 34 in March.

OneWeb plans to start operating its global commercial Internet services in 2022 with the support of approximately 650 satellites.

“Today’s launch will be the first fully commercial spacecraft launch from the Vostochny cosmodrome,” Roscosmos said earlier in the day.

“It will also be the first launch operated by the European launch services provider Arianespace for the company OneWeb from the first Russian civilian spaceport.”

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

Its construction has for years been tainted by multiple controversies including corruption, and the project has been consistently behind schedule. 

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