Arianespace used a Soyuz rocket to launch four satellites into orbit for the SES Network’s O3b division. SES already has 12 similar satellites in orbit, and will later this year launch a further four into space.
The O3b fleet serves small Pacific islands, far-flung nations and even giant cruise ships with their broadband and internet services. SES bought the O3b business in 2016.
The satellites lifted off at 17.10 GMT (14.10 local time) on March 9th from the Space Center at Kourou, French Guiana.
The satellites, built by Thales Alenia Space, will end up in orbits at 7830 kms high (4865 miles) in Medium-Earth orbits above the Equator.
“We are very excited to have four more O3b satellites in orbit, and we look forward to them joining the constellation in May and serving our customers around the globe,” said Steve Collar, the CEO of SES Networks who will take over as CEO of the complete SES operation in April. “The demand for high performance bandwidth and networks continues to grow and, as the only successful non-geostationary broadband system, we need these new satellites to fulfil demand across a wide range of verticals and applications.”
From connecting underserved communities and meaningfully transforming lives through improved broadband access, to delivering state of the art satellite-enabled network services to ships, planes and government platforms, our O3b fleet offers unique and differentiated performance and is driving our customers’ businesses forward,” Collar added.
SES Networks says the O3b network has beamed Internet signals for the US Department of Defense and the United Nations, and provided connectivity to numerous island nations: Palau, Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Cook Islands, East Timor and America Samoa. African clients for Internet services include Chad, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Angola and Madagascar.
Martin Halliwell, SES’ CTO attended the launch and revealed that this will be his last visit to French Guiana, as he will be retiring next year.