SpaceX Gives Rival’s Internet Satellites Ride to Orbit

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX launched Internet satellites Thursday for a rival after London-based OneWeb grounded its flights to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

A Falcon rocket was launched into polar orbit at sunset with 40 mini satellites. They will expand OneWeb’s constellation to more than 500, which is nearly 80% of the planned 630 satellites.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has more than 3,200 Starlink satellites in orbit, delivering high-speed, broadband internet to remote corners of the globe. Amazon plans to launch its first Internet satellites from Cape Canaveral early next year.

Massimiliano Ladovaz, OneWeb’s chief technology officer, said the market for global Internet service is “exponentially growing” and there’s room for everyone.

SpaceX agreed to launch satellites for OneWeb after the British company severed ties with Russia in March. Russian Soyuz rockets have already launched a batch of 13 OneWeb satellites starting in 2019.


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Despite other launch options, SpaceX and India offer the fastest and best combination, Latovas said shortly before liftoff.

Two more SpaceX launches and one more by India are planned for OneWeb in the next few months, with the company scheduled to complete its orbit in the spring. OneWeb already provides internet service Alaska, Canada and Northern Europe; The new satellites will increase range to the entire Americas and Europe, large parts of Africa and South America, and other places, Latovas says.

The OneWeb satellites — each about the size of a washing machine and weighing 330 pounds (150 kilograms) — are built at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center through a joint venture with France’s Airbus.

The Jupiter launch took place just a few miles from the same pad where the last Apollo astronauts blasted for the moon on December 7, 1972.

The Associated Press receives support from the Health and Science Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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