There are numerous companies worldwide working to put small satellites into orbit capable of delivering broadband to any location on the globe. While the most well-known of these satellites is the SpaceX Starlink network, it’s far from the only satellite constellation being placed in orbit specifically for broadband connectivity.
Starsem and Roscosmos worked with Arianespace to launch 34 new Internet satellites into orbit using a Russian Soyuz 2.1b. The launch happened on Saturday, August 21, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Originally, the launch was scheduled for Thursday, August 19, but that mission was scrubbed only seconds before liftoff.
Officials reschedule the launch to happen on Friday, August 20, but it was later rescheduled to Saturday, August 21. The rocket was equipped with a Fregat relightable upper stage engine to put the OneWeb satellites into their final orbit. That orbit is about 450 kilometers above the surface of the Earth.
OneWeb wants to provide something known as “semi-low-latency” Internet to places on the planet where standard broadband delivery via copper or fiber-optic cable is unavailable. It’s not exactly clear what semi-low-latency is considered. However, we know that OneWeb aims to deliver download speeds of up to 50 mb/s to receiving stations on the ground, sea, or air.
When it comes to speeds, Starlink is faster, with some early users of the service achieving 100 Mbps speeds or higher. Recently, Starlink also filed paperwork requesting the ability to provide Internet services to vehicles, aircraft, and ships in motion. OneWeb is working on completing its phase 2 constellation that consists of 6372 satellites. Originally, the company planted its phase 2 to have almost 48,000 satellites indicating the goals have been significantly scaled back.