HomeTechnologySpaceX brings its rival's internet satellites into orbit

SpaceX brings its rival’s internet satellites into orbit


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX launched internet satellites for a competitor Thursday, stepping in to help after London-based company OneWeb halted flights to Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

The Falcon rocket lifted off at sunset with 40 mini-satellites bound for polar orbit. They will expand the OneWeb constellation to just over 500, almost 80% of the planned total of some 630 satellites.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has more than 3,200 Starlink satellites in orbit, bringing high-speed broadband internet to remote corners of the world. Amazon plans to launch the first of its Internet satellites early next year from Cape Canaveral.

With the market for global Internet services “growing exponentially,” there is room for everyone, said Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb’s chief technology officer.

SpaceX agreed to launch satellites for OneWeb after the British company severed ties with Russia in March. Russian Soyuz rockets had already launched 13 batches of OneWeb satellites as of 2019.

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Although there were other launch options, SpaceX and India offered the best and fastest combination, Ladovaz said shortly before liftoff.

Two more launches by SpaceX and one more by India for OneWeb are planned in the coming months to complete the company’s in-orbit constellation by spring. OneWeb already provides Internet service in Alaska, Canada and Northern Europe; the newer satellites will increase range to the entire United States and Europe, as well as much of Africa and South America, and elsewhere, according to Ladovaz.

The OneWeb satellites, each the size of a washing machine and weighing 330 pounds (150 kilograms), are being built at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center through a joint venture with France’s Airbus.

Thursday’s launch occurred just several miles away from the same platform where Apollo astronauts took off for the moon, the last time on December 7, 1972.

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