Space Commerce

Four O3b Networks Satellites Launched by a Soyuz from Arianespace’s Kourou Launch Site

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
July 11, 2014
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Four O3b Networks Satellites Launched by a Soyuz from Arianespace’s Kourou Launch Site
Four O3b Networks Satellites Launched by a Soyuz

O3b Networks’ mission to bridge the digital divide marked a significant step forward with today’s Arianespace Soyuz flight that deployed its next four satellites – which will complete the basic constellation for this customer’s pioneering connectivity service and help make the O3b vision a reality.
The launch success – which had a total payload lift performance of more than 3,200 kg. – continues the partnership between Arianespace and O3b Networks, and builds upon the on-target Soyuz mission that orbited O3b’s initial four spacecraft in June 2013.

This fruitful collaboration was highlighted by Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël during comments from the Spaceport’s mission control center, in which he noted O3b Networks is one of the 40 satellite operators to date that have selected Arianespace to start their business. He added: “Behind that choice, there is of course a true recognition of the reliability and availability of our launch systems.”

Soyuz is the medium-lift member of Arianespace’s launcher family operated from French Guiana, joined by the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega. For today’s mission, it delivered O3b Networks’ satellites during a flight lasting 2 hours and 22 minutes – which included multiple burns of the Fregat upper stage, with the four passengers released in two phases from a dispenser system.

The latest O3b Networks connectivity satellites are equipped with Ka-band transponders. Along with the four spacecraft launched last year, they form the network framework to provide billions of consumers and businesses in nearly 180 countries with low-cost, high-speed, low-latency Internet and mobile connectivity.

O3b Networks’ satellite constellation is fully scalable to meet market demand and operates from a medium-orbit altitude of 8,062 km. From this low altitude, latency is dramatically reduced – bringing it on par with a long-haul fiber transmission. The O3b spacecraft were designed, integrated and tested by Thales Alenia Space.

With the presence of top officials in the mission control center for today’s launch, Israël also reaffirmed Arianespace’s commitment to continue delivering tailor-made launch solutions with O3b’s specific requirements.

Speaking after the satellites’ separation was confirmed, O3b Networks CEO Steve Collar thanked all those involved with the mission success – and gave a special acknowledgement to the Arianespace and Thales Alenia Space leadership in attendance. “The relationship that we have is a unique one – it’s one of partnership, one of cooperation, one of openness and one of friendship,” he added.

Arianespace continues to set the standard in launch services worldwide. With the Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega launchers fully operational at the Spaceport in French Guiana, it is the only launch services company capable of delivering any payload into any orbit – from the smallest spacecraft to the largest geostationary satellites, as well as satellite clusters for constellations and cargo missions to the International Space Station.

Today’s Soyuz success marked the medium-lift vehicle’s eighth flight from the Spaceport since its 2011 introduction at French Guiana, as well as the fifth Arianespace mission from this equatorial launch site in 2014 – for which a total of 12 flights are planned with Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega during the year.

The next mission in Arianespace’s 2014 manifest is the July 24 Ariane 5 flight that will deliver Europe’s fifth, and final, Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) for servicing of the International Space Station. The ATV program – managed by the European Space Agency (ESA) – is part of Europe’s contribution to the International Space Station’s operation.

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