WASHINGTON — European launch provider Arianespace completed SES’s first-generation O3b constellation April 4 with the Soyuz launch of four satellites.
The rocket lifted off at 1:04 p.m. Eastern from Europe’s Guiana Space Centre near Kourou, French Guiana.
The 700-kilogram satellites, designed for broadband connectivity services, separated from the Russian-built rocket two at a time, the first set two hours and one minute after liftoff and the second set 22 minutes later.
SES now has 20 O3b satellites in medium Earth orbit. Franco-Italian manufacturer Thales Alenia Space built the Ka-band satellites, each of which carries 20 gigabits per second of throughput.
Luxembourg-based SES operates the O3b satellites 8,000 kilometers above the Earth — about a fourth the distance of geostationary orbit where most telecom satellites reside. The proximity of the O3b satellites means less lag time for communications services.
SES spokesperson Suzanne Ong said the four new satellites increase the throughput of the O3b constellation by 26 percent. The O3b constellation’s coverage area remains largely the same, she said, fanning out 50 degrees north and south of the equator.
Arianespace has launched the full O3b constellation since 2013 using Soyuz rockets carrying four satellites at a ...