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    A picture taken on December 17, 2015 shows a Soyuz rocket blasting off from the European space centre at Kourou, French Guiana

    Russia Soyuz Rocket With 6 UK OneWeb Satellites Blast Off From Kourou Space Port

    © AFP 2019 / Jody AMIET
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    PARIS (Sputnik) - The Russian Soyuz rocket, carrying the first six UK satellites for the OneWeb project, successfully blazed off from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, the live broadcast of the launch on the Arianespace launch service provider's website showed.

    "Lift off 4:37pm EST [21:37 GMT] #OneWebLaunch", OneWeb wrote on Twitter. The rocket is expected to bring the satellites to the low-Earth orbit.

    The launch of OneWeb satellites was originally planned for 20 February, but it was postponed to 27 February due to the discovery of a seam rupture in a pipeline that supplies helium to fuel tanks of the Fregat booster on the Soyuz-ST carrier rocket at the end of January during the launch preparation at the Kourou cosmodrome.

    The launch was postponed once again to 28 February due to the non-nominal behavior of the third stage of the Soyuz-2.1b rocket when the Egyptian EgyptSat-A satellite was launched on 21 February.

    OneWeb plans to create a constellation of satellites that will provide broadband Internet access to users around the world, fully covering the Earth surface.

    READ MORE: Baikonur Facilities to Undergo Overhaul Before OneWeb Satellites Launch — Source

    In total, according to OneWeb Founder and Executive Chairman Greg Wyler, the company plans to put nearly 2,000 satellites into orbit to provide global broadband Internet access, but 600 of them will be enough at the first stage. OneWeb's investors include Virgin Group, SoftBank, Airbus, Qualcomm and Coca-Cola.

    In June 2015, Roscosmos signed with OneWeb and French company Arianespace a contract for 21 commercial launches of 672 satellites on Soyuz launch vehicles with Fregat boosters from Kourou, Baikonur and Vostochny spaceports.

    Last year, according to media reports, it turned out that the company had problems with licensing necessary frequencies in Russia, facing the opposition of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor. Despite this, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said that the cooperation of his corporation with OneWeb would continue.

    READ MORE: Soyuz Carrier Rocket With French Spy Satellite Blasts Off From Kourou Spaceport

    RSC Progress chief Dmitry Baranov said that Russia had received almost $1 billion in advance for launching OneWeb satellites atop Soyuz launch vehicles, so there is no economic reason to refuse to launch them.

    Related:

    OneWeb Satellites Launch Could Be Postponed After Soyuz Emergency - Source
    OneWeb Delays Launch of Satellites Over Problems With Russian Carrier - Chairman
    Scaled Back OneWeb Constellation Not to Affect Number of Soyuz Boosters - Source
    Tags:
    launch, Kourou space center, Soyuz rocket, OneWeb satellite, French Guiana, Kourou
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