Thursday, January 15, 2015

Virgin Aims to Build Largest Satellite Constellation

Virgin outlined audacious plans to build, launch and operate the world’s largest satellite network.

OneWeb Ltd. (previously WorldVu), a new venture backed by the Virgin Group and Qualcomm, will use Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne space plane to put 648 small satellites into low-Earth orbit. OneWeb Ltd. is headed by Greg Wyler, who founded O3b Networks in 2007.

The company is believed to have acquired the satellite spectrum that was formerly owned by SkyBridge.

Richard Branson announced the new venture.

In December, Arianespace successfully launched four Ka-band satellites for O3b Networks aboard a medium-lift Soyuz rocket from the Spaceport in French Guiana. This marked Arianespace’s tenth Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center and the third launch for O3b Networks, following the successful launch of the first eight satellites in the O3b constellation in June 2013 and July 2014.

The four Ka-band satellites are being directed into an equatorial orbit at an altitude of about 8,000 km, where they will join the first eight satellites. With this latest launch, the O3b constellation is now fully deployed and operational. O3b Networks started commercial service on September 1, 2014.