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Russian rocket blasts off

A Russian Soyuz rocket on Monday took 36 more satellites from British operator OneWeb into orbit, bringing the company more than halfway towards its goal of providing global broadband internet.

The London-headquartered company is working to complete the construction of a constellation of low earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the planet.

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The UK company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites. With the latest mission, it now has a total of 394 satellites in orbit for the constellation.

rocket internet pacific
The Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with the Fregat upper stage and 36 UK OneWeb communications satellites blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Picture: Roscosmos / Sputnik via AFP

The Russian rocket, operated by Europe’s Arianespace, took off at 1310 GMT from the Moscow-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan.

“LIFTOFF!” Russia’s Roscosmos space agency tweeted after the launch.

OneWeb is competing in the race to provide fast internet for the world’s remote areas via satellites along with tech billionaire Elon Musk and fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

Arianespace, which has worked with Russia for close to two decades, is under contract to make 16 Soyuz launches between December 2020 and the end of 2022.

© Agence France-Presse

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