Russian Soyuz rocket launches 36 new British satellites

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A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off into space on Thursday carrying 36 new satellites from UK operator OneWeb, which aims to provide high-speed internet anywhere in the world.

The rocket, operated by the European Arianespace, took off at 09:40 GMT from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, broadcast live by the country’s Roscosmos space agency.

“LIFT-OFF!” Roscosmos tweeted after the launch – the seventh this year to carry OneWeb satellites.

OneWeb, a London-based company, is working to complete the construction of a constellation of low-earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.

The company is competing in the race to provide fast internet access to remote areas of the world via satellites with tech billionaire Elon Musk and fellow billionaire Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.

The British company expects its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites.

Arianespace, which has worked with Russia for nearly two decades, is under contract to carry out 16 Soyuz launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022.

With this latest mission, a total of 358 satellites are now in orbit for the constellation, Roscosmos said.


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