The first batch of satellites for OneWeb's enormous new global satellite internet constellation will launch into orbit today (Feb. 27), bringing our planet one step closer to having internet access everywhere.
The European launch provider Arianespace will use a Soyuz rocket to loft the six satellites into a low Earth orbit. This rocket will lift off from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 4:37 p.m. EST (2137 GMT). You can watch the launch live here at Space.com or directly via Arianespace's YouTube.
Today's mission will be the first of 21 rocket launches that Arianespace will undertake to begin building OneWeb's constellation, which will eventually consist of more than 900 satellites. The Virginia-based startup aims to provide high-speed satellite internet everywhere on Earth by 2021.
"OneWeb's mission is to deliver global communications through a next-generation satellite constellation that will bring seamless connectivity to everyone, everywhere," Arianespace officials said in a description of the mission. The OneWeb satellite constellation "will provide high-speed, low-latency services to a range of markets," like aeronautics, maritime, community Wi-Fi and emergency response services, according to the mission's description.
OneWeb, a company formerly known as WorldVu, contracted the European company Airbus Defence and Space to build the satellites. Each satellite weighs approximately 326 lbs. (148 kilograms) and is about the size of a washing machine. The satellites will circle the Earth in polar orbits, crossing over the north and south poles every day at an altitude of about 750 miles (1,200 kilometers).
Once the first generation of OneWeb satellites is complete and operational, the company aims to launch an additional "sub-constellation" of 2,000 V-band satellites. The first-generation satellites will operate in Ku-band frequencies.
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