10 years of O3b
June 29, 2023
Ten years ago, the first batch of four O3b satellites were successfully launched. July 2014 saw a second batch of four launched into orbit at 8,063 km altitude.
Since those early days, SES, which owns the O3b fleet, has grown and now includes the much more powerful mPOWER fleet of craft, orbiting nearby at 8,066 kms.
Initially planned to launch in 2010, the first four O3b satellites reached orbit on a Soyuz-2 / Fregat-MT launch vehicle by Arianespace on June 25th 2013. After discovering a hardware defect in the initial satellites, O3b postponed the planned September 2013 launch of four additional satellites so modifications could be made. The second four satellites were launched by the same type of rocket from the Space Center in French Guiana, on July 10th 2014 and the O3b system started full commercial service on September 1st 2014.
In November 2014, the Quantum of the Seas became the first cruise ship to provide fast Internet to guests through O3b Networks. The service is branded ‘Voom’ by its cruise line, Royal Caribbean International and it was subsequently rolled out to every ship in their fleet.
In September 2017, SES announced Boeing would build seven “super-powered” medium earth orbit satellites for launch in 2021 to provide flexible and scalable, low-latency satellite-based networks with terabits of throughput, hugely expanding the capacity of the existing constellation of 12 (now 20) first-generation O3b satellites.
Jean-Paul Hemingway, who supervises SES’s Network division, in a Tweet said: “This week we’re celebrating 10 years of O3b! Incredibly proud of the connectivity, flexibility, & opportunity this system has brought to communities worldwide over the past decade – and the best is yet to come!”