An international company manufacturing satellites in Merritt Island launched dozens of spacecraft from Russia Thursday moving toward its goal of creating a space-based internet.
Thirty-four OneWeb high-speed broadband satellites launched atop a European Arianespace Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan Thursday. The satellites will be part of the company’s “rapidly” growing constellation of 648 spacecraft that will create a global internet network.
Each satellite is about the size of a refrigerator and was manufactured at the company’s facility at Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park, according to OneWeb. The 10,000-square-foot building across the street from Blue Origin marked the industry’s first satellite factory designed to mass-produce spacecraft at low cost, according to OneWeb, producing 15 satellites a week.
Similar to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, now at 240 satellites in low-Earth orbit, the company aims to deliver high-speed internet to the world. However, OneWeb’s satellites will orbit at a higher altitude 750 miles above Earth.
The company launched its first round of internet-beaming satellites last year.
OneWeb plans to start its service with certain customers by the end of this year and provide its services worldwide by next year. The internet venture is a collaboration between OneWeb and Airbus Defense and Space.