A Soyuz rocket successfully launched six OneWeb satellites in the first of 21 launches planned to place 650 units in orbit, with the ultimate goal of providing broadband Internet access "everywhere" to "everyone".
The first group of satellites was launched Wednesday at 21:37 GMT from the French Guiana Space Center. The Russian rocket propelled the payload into low Earth orbit, the six satellites separating in time, tweeted the founder and president of OneWeb, Greg Wyler.
All 6 confirmed !!! ???????
– Greg Wyler (@greg_wyler) February 27, 2019
OneWeb is a satellite startup founded by US-based American entrepreneur WorldVu in 2012 with the goal of providing affordable broadband Internet access worldwide, including in areas of the world where Internet access is low or nonexistent.
The first launch of OneWeb apparently went off without a hitch, Wyler tweeting: "Perfect deposit Soyuz !!!"
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), congratulated Wyler for the "successful cooperation start" between OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between OneWeb and Airbus, and the Russian Space Agency.
The ambitious mission was completed by European launch provider Arianespace, which used a Soyuz launcher to send satellites into space.
READ MORE: Russian space chief says security officials are too upset by OneWeb global Internet project
The road to the launch was not smooth. Last month, specialists from NPO Lavochkine, a subsidiary of Roscosmos, reportedly discovered a crack in the upper floor of Fregat, which is the fourth floor of the Soyuz rocket. It was feared that the fault could repel the launch, originally scheduled for February 19, in March or even next year.
More than 648 satellites will be placed in low Earth orbit by Soyuz rockets in a series of monthly launchers agreed between Roscosmos, Arianespace and OneWeb in 2015. Up to 36 satellites will be lifted in one payload.
OneWeb hopes to put its huge constellation into service by 2020 and to be able to provide worldwide coverage the following year.
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