O3b satellites signed off

The first four satellites in what will end up being a 12-satellite constellation have been formally ‘accepted’ into orbit late on July 26th, according to builder Thales Alenia Space.

Transfer of control for the O3b first batch is in progress, from the Thales Alenia Space Control Centre, in Cannes, to the O3b control centre, in Betzdorf, Luxembourg. Thales Alenia Space, prime contractor of the O3b constellation, is responsible for the satellites conception and manufacturing, for their positioning and validation in orbit.

The integration of the next four O3b satellites is being finalised in the Thales Alenia Space’s clean rooms, in Rome, for a delivery in French Guiana, scheduled in August 2013. The next Soyuz launch will be that of the O3b second batch of 4 satellites.

When eight satellites are in position – and the next four validated and accepted – then the system will be put to work. The final four will be launched in 2014.

O3b – which stands for ‘the other 3 billion’ of the world’s population with no or inadequate broadband will then be served by O3b’s roster of wholesale clients. The satellites will use the Ka-band, and multiple spot-beams for maximum efficiency.

Jersey-based O3b Networks is backed by a consortium comprising SES, Google, Liberty Global, bankers HSBC, Allen & Company and a number of financial institutions.

O3b raised a total of $1.2 billion to fully finance the construction and launch of the satellites, and says it has orders worth more than $750 million contracted.

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