Nearly three dozen OneWeb internet satellites will take flight today (Sept. 14), if all goes according to plan, and you can watch the action live.
A Soyuz rocket topped with 34 OneWeb broadband spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today at 2:07 p.m. EDT (1807 GMT; 1:07 a.m. Sept. 15 local time in Baikonur).
Today’s mission — which OneWeb calls Launch 10 and Arianespace calls ST35 — will bring the number of satellites in OneWeb’s constellation to 322. All of them were lofted by Arianespace, including another batch of 34 that went up last month.
The 34 spacecraft launching today will deploy into a near-polar orbit with an altitude of 280 miles (450 kilometers), then gradually make their own way to their operational orbit 746 miles (1,200 km) above Earth.
Once that happens, OneWeb’s constellation will be halfway done. The London-based communications company is building out a network of 650 satellites, which will beam broadband service down to people around the globe.
OneWeb, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy late last year, aims to start providing internet service by the end of 2021 to some of Earth’s northern regions, including Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Iceland and continental northern Europe.
The company has some competition in the satellite-internet business. For example, SpaceX has launched more than 1,700 of its Starlink broadband spacecraft to low Earth orbit and is already beta-testing the service they provide. And another heavy hitter, Amazon, plans to loft more than 3,200 broadband satellites of its own, though none of them have launched to date.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.