Launch postponed for Soyuz rocket with UK telecom satellites

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The launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying 36 UK telecommunication and internet satellites has been postponed until Friday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.

OneWeb, a London-headquartered company, is working to complete the construction of a constellation of low earth orbit satellites providing enhanced broadband and other services to countries around the world.

The launch of the rocket operated by European company Arianespace was scheduled for 1743 GMT on Thursday from the Vostochny cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

“For technical reasons, the launch…has been postponed to the reserve date,” Roscosmos said in a statement on Thursday.

The space agency added that the postponed launch will take place on Friday, May 28 at 1738 GMT.

The launch was postponed “due to the replacement of one item of electrical equipment,” launch operator Arianespace said on Twitter.

It added that the Soyuz rocket and the satellites are in “stable and safe condition”.

So far two batches of 36 OneWeb satellites have been placed into orbit from Russia this year.

The UK company plans for its global commercial internet service to be operational by next year, supported by some 650 satellites.

The Vostochny launch site is one of Russia’s most important space projects, designed to reduce reliance on the Baikonur space centre Moscow currently rents from Kazakhstan.

The project has been consistently behind schedule, with its construction marred for years by multiple controversies including corruption.

Russia launches new batch of UK telecom satellites into space

© 2021 AFP

Launch postponed for Soyuz rocket with UK telecom satellites (2021, May 27)
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