SES-backed O3b now has its first constellation of 12 satellites in orbit. Four additions were lofted into space late on December 19th, by an Arianespace Soyuz rocket from the Kourou, French Guiana, spaceport.
The complex mission worked perfectly and after a 2 hour 22 minute flight, the first pair of satellites were released from the rocket’s dispenser, followed by the remaining pair.
O3b has been fully operational for some months but this latest quartet of Medium Earth Satellites (operating 8,062 km above the Earth’s surface) extends the reach and functionality of O3b. This means very low-latency or time delay in connectivity, potentially even including broadcast signals, to the “other 3 billion” people of the planet who have little or no broadband connectivity.
The satellites were built by Thales Alenia and will now undergo a short period of in-orbit testing.
Besides SES, other investors in O3b include Google and Liberty.
Steve Collar, CEO of O3b said: “O3b already provides connections to customers who bring life-changing connectivity in remote places such as Papua New Guinea, East Timor, The Cook Islands, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and customer feedback has been excellent. O3b Networks is definitively a ‘game changer’ for Internet connectivity and we are pleased to have a strong partnership with Thales Alenia Space to provide the O3b satellites”.