Soyuz Flight VS18

Soyuz Flight VS18 with four O3b MEO satellites


Launch vehicle
Launch date
March 9, 2018
SES Networks
O3b MEO satellite, O3b MEO satellite, O3b MEO satellite, O3b MEO satellite
Prime contractor(s)
Thales Alenia Space
Launch site
Spaceport, French Guiana (Guiana Space Center)
Medium-Earth orbit


For Arianespace’s second launch of 2018, the company will use a Soyuz launch vehicle to orbit four additional O3b MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) satellites in the constellation operated by SES Networks.

This 18th Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center (CSG)

Washington, D.C.
11:37:06 a.m.
Kourou, French Guiana
1:37:06 p.m.
Universal Time (UTC)
Luxembourg and Paris
5:37:06 p.m.


Four O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites

<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-41857″ src=”” alt=”” width=”1052″ height=”713″ />

The O3b satellites lofted by Arianespace Flight VS18 are the 54th, 55th, 56th and 57th satellites to be launched by Arianespace for the global satellite operator SES.

SES is the world-leading satellite operator and the first to deliver a differentiated and scalable GEO-MEO offering worldwide, with more than 50 satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and 12 in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). SES focuses on value-added, end-to-end solutions in two key business units: SES Video and SES Networks. The company provides satellite communications services to broadcasters, content and internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, governments and institutions. SES’s portfolio includes the ASTRA satellite system, which has the largest Direct-to-Home (DTH) television reach in Europe; O3b, a global managed data communications service provider; and MX1, a leading media service provider that offers a full suite of innovative digital video and media services.

Positioned at approximately 8,000 km., the O3b satellites are about four-times-closer to Earth than geostationary (GEO) satellites, and provide low-latency, fibre-like connectivity.

The new Ka-band satellites will join the existing O3b constellation to deliver high-speed connectivity to people and businesses in the growing mobility, fixed data and government markets. By scaling efficiently its MEO fleet, SES is adding 38% more capacity across the globe and growing the addressable market from 45 to 50 degrees north and south latitude.

The current 12-spacecraft constellation was orbited by Arianespace, utilizing its medium-lift Soyuz workhorse to carry four spacecraft each on launches that began in June 2013, and was followed by missions in July and December 2014.

The four O3b MEO satellites orbited on VS18 will enable SES Networks to offer more capacity, enhanced coverage, increased efficiencies and greater reliability while delivering carrier-grade services including MEF Carrier Ethernet 2.0 certified services to telecommunications operators, mobile network operators (MNOs), enterprises, Internet service providers (ISPs) and government customers.

SES will be launching another four O3b MEO satellites for the constellation with Arianespace in 2019. In addition, Arianespace also has one SES geostationary satellite in its order book.

The O3b satellites on Flight VS18 were built by Thales Alenia Space in its plant in Cannes, France. They are the 151st to 154th satellites from this manufacturer to be launched by Arianespace.

Eleven other Thales Alenia Space-built satellites are in Arianespace’s order book.

and flight

The countdown comprises all final preparation steps for the launcher, the satellite(s) and the launch site. If it proceeds as planned, the countdown leads to the ignition of the core stage engine and the four boosters.

  • Launch vehicle fueling begins
  • End of fueling operations
  • Mobile gantry withdrawal
  • Key on start
  • show the countdown
  • Liftoff
  • show the countdown
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