MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) – Four satellites to provide broadband Internet access in remote areas will be launched on Monday evening atop Russia’s Soyuz ST-B rocket from the Kourou launch center in French Guiana.
“The launch of the Soyuz ST-B carrier rocket with four O3b Networks satellites is scheduled for 22:53 Moscow time [6:53 p.m. GMT] on June 24 from the Guiana spaceport in South America,” an Arianespace spokesman told RIA Novosti.
He said the O3b Networks satellites are designed and built by Thales Alenia Space to become a part of the first medium Earth orbit satellite constellation providing broadband internet access in remote areas of the world.
Four O3b satellites are to be taken to orbit this year and four – in 2014. To reduce cost and latency, the satellites will be orbiting at an average altitude of about 8,000 km, or about four times closer than regular geostationary satellites.
It will be the fifth Soyuz launch from the Kourou space center.
The first launch of a Russian rocket beyond the ex-Soviet borders was held on October 22, 2011, when Russia’s Soyuz-ST-a carrier rocket blasted off from Kourou carrying two Galileo navigation system satellites. Before that, Soyuz launches were available only from two space centers – Russia’s Plesetsk and Baikonur that Russia leases from Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz-ST is a modification of the three-stage Soyuz-2 rocket with a Fregat upper stage adapted for launch in high heat and humidity prevalent in Kourou. It is fitted with a radar transponder allowing its location to be monitored and controlled in flight.