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PARIS, July 10, /ITAR-TASS/. Preparations are nearing completion for the launch of a Russian Soyuz-ST carrier rocket with four communication satellites aboard from the Kourou Space Centre in French Guiana.
The liftoff is scheduled for 22:55 Moscow time Thursday, July 10. The rocket will orbit four O3b Networks satellites which will provide access to the Internet to three billion people in different countries across the world.
The overall cost of the project exceeds 1 billion U.S. dollars. The first four O3b satellites were orbited in June 2013 as part of a programme to build a cluster of up to 20 satellites which will provide high-speed Internet service in remote areas where optical fiber cables cannot be laid. The satellites will be built and launched for the company O3b Network, which was founded with the financial assistance of Google.
The name of the project “O3b Networks” is the short from “other 3 billion” and aims to bring Internet to the poorest nations in different parts of the world. It calls for putting satellites into an 8,000 km-high orbit. Unlike satellites working on higher orbits, these ones will transmit the signal with a smaller delay and cover an area stretching from Spain to South Africa, a large part of South America and Asia, and all islands in the South Pacific.
The satellites made Thales Alenia Space weigh 650 kg each, compared to regular satellites of 4 to 6 tonnes. The equipment they are carrying works four times faster than the previous versions.
In the final part of the trajectory, the microsatellites will be put into their respective orbits by the Russian Fregat booster.
Another four O3b Networks satellites are to be launched in early 2015.
Soyuz-ST is a version of the Russian three-stage Soyuz-2 launch vehicle with a Fregat-MT booster and an ST cone adapted for launches from Kourou.