O3b signs agreement with Arianespace for a fourth Soyuz launch, plus an option
O3b Networks Limited – the developer of a global, high-speed, low-latency satellite- based network for telecommunications operators, ISPs, enterprises and governments – has signed a contract with Arianespace for a fourth Soyuz launch to support the expansion of the O3b Networks' satellite constellation.
The launch will take place from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in early 2018 and will put four O3b spacecraft in an equatorial medium earth orbit. The contract also includes a firm option for a fifth Soyuz launch to be performed in 2018 or later.
The first 12 O3b satellites were successfully orbited by three Soyuz launch vehicles operating from the Guiana Space Center in 2013 and 2014. Each satellite weighs about 700 kg at launch and provides more than 10 Gbps of capacity. Arianespace will now launch from the CSG a fourth tranche of four satellites for O3b in early 2018.
O3b Networks Ltd. – based in Jersey (Channel Islands), whose investors include SES, Google Inc., Liberty Global Inc., and HSBC – already have a new satellite infrastructure in place providing high-speed low-latency connectivity to emerging countries. More than 3 billion people in Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East can now benefit from O3b’s global constellation. The satellites are built by Thales Alenia Space.
After the signature, Stéphane Israël, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said: “I want to express my gratitude to O3b Networks for selecting Arianespace again, while expanding its broadband capacity with the launch of four additional satellites. We are proud to remain part of such an innovative program, which enables fiber-quality internet connectivity in emerging countries, therefore fully in line with our core mission: bring space down to Earth through tailor made launch solutions.”
O3b stands for the “Other 3 billion,” a reference to nearly half of the world’s population that is not adequately served with broadband internet access. O3b combines the speed of a fiber optic network with the global reach of a satellite system to enable broadband connectivity to billions.
O3b satellites are placed in orbit nearly 8,000 kilometers from the Earth, four times closer to the planet than regular geostationary satellites, giving customers extremely low latency and providing access to approximately 70 per cent of the world’s population with fiber-quality internet connectivity.
Arianespace is the world’s leading satellite launch company. Founded in 1980, Arianespace deploys a family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, to meet the needs of both commercial and government customers, and has performed 270 launches to date. Backed by its 20 shareholders and the European Space Agency, Arianespace is the only company in the world capable of launching all types of payloads into all orbits, from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. As of December 14, 2015, Arianespace had carried out 227 Ariane launches, 38 Soyuz launches (12 at the Guiana Space Center and 26 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, via Starsem) and six Vega launches. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a facility at the Guiana Space Center, plus local offices in Washington D.C., Tokyo and Singapore.