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Russia launches new batch of UK telecom satellites into space
by AFP Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) April 26, 2021

A Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia's Far East on Monday carrying 36 UK telecommunications and internet satellites, the Roscosmos space agency said.

OneWeb, a London-headquartered company, is working to complete the construction of a constellation of low earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.

The company is competing against billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos in the race to provide fast internet via satellites for the world's remote areas.

Images released by Russia's space agency Roscosmos showed the Soyuz rocket taking off against hazy skies Monday morning at 7:14 am local time (2214 GMT).

"All satellites have been successfully placed in target orbits and have been taken under customer control," Roscosmos said in a statement.

"Mission success!" OneWeb wrote on Twitter.

The UK company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites.

Monday's launch was the third batch of its satellites placed into orbit from Russia, with earlier launches from the Vostochny cosmodrome of 36 satellites each taking place last month and in December.

OneWeb's first six satellites were also launched by a Russian-made Soyuz rocket, taking off from the space centre in Kourou in French Guiana in February 2019.

The company launched 68 more from the Baikanour launch site in Kazakhstan last year.

The Vostochny launch site is one of Russia's most important space projects, designed to reduce reliance on the Baikonur space centre Moscow currently rents from Kazakhstan.

The project has been consistently behind schedule, with its construction marred for years by multiple controversies including corruption.

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Jeff Bezos' Amazon signs rocket deal to launch network to rival SpaceX
Washington DC (UPI) Apr 19, 2021
Amazon's plans to build the Kuiper Project satellite Internet service to rival SpaceX's Starlink now have a launch provider, Colorado-based United Launch Alliance. Amazon has contracted with ULA for nine launches, the online retail giant said, but it didn't say when launches will occur. "Those details will be released closer to launch," ULA spokeswoman Jessica Rye said in an email. Amazon plans to launch 3,236 satellites into low-Earth orbit to beam broadband to the entire globe - ... read more

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