British SpaceX rival OneWeb launches 34 internet satellites into orbit

Telegraph 07 Feb 2020 01:10

British satellite firm OneWeb has launched 34 satellites into space as part of its effort to provide global high-speed internet access using satellite communications by 2021.

The start-up’s satellites were launched by a Russian Soyuz spacecraft which set off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan in the early hours of Friday local time. 

It marks the second launch of satellites by the company after it sent six satellites from the Guiana Space Centre into orbit in February last year.

OneWeb, which has raised around $1.7bn from the likes of SoftBank Group, Airbus, and Virgin, is aiming to put a constellation of 648 satellites into orbit by 2021 to offer access to the internet in the most remote parts of the world. 

It struck a contract in 2015 with Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, that ties the British firm’s launches to Soyuz rockets. 

The company faces stiff competition from the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has a similar goal for its Starlink project.

Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, has also been eyeing up the satellite sector with his so-called Kuiper project to expand into a 19,000 square feet facility in Washington state this year to experiment with prototypes and satellite design. 

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