In less than 4 weeks from now a mini-constellation of four satellites will lift off from French Guiana . The project is called O3b (standing for the “other 3 billion) and is designed to provide connection services to these other 3 billion of the planet’s population totally without broadband or without an adequate broadband service.
The constellation will provide connectivity in Ka-band with multiple spot-beams focussed on the Earth below and operate from a height of 8063 km up in space.
O3b is owned by a consortium which includes Google, Liberty and a host of other well-known names. The largest stake is held by Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES.
The launch is scheduled to take place on June 24 aboard a Soyuz rocket, but not from Russia or Kazakhstan but from French Guiana. Arianespace have designated Soyuz as their ‘medium-lift’ rocket launcher. The satellites will operate in the regions either side of the Equator more or less reaching the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
This launch will be followed by another later this year adding another 4 satellites, plus a further four in 2014.