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Soyuz launches four communications satellites
Posted: Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 9:31 AM ET (1331 GMT)
Soyuz launch of first 4 O3b satellites (Arianespace) A Soyuz rocket launched four commercial communications satellites from French Guiana on Tuesday. The Soyuz ST-B lifted off from the Guiana Space Center at 3:27 pm EDT (1927 GMT) Tuesday, less than two hours after another Soyuz rocket lifted off from Kazakhstan. The rocket placed the first four satellites for O3b Networks into a circular equatorial orbit at an altitude of 8,000 kilometers. The satellites, built by Thales Alenia Space and each weighing 700 kilograms, will operate from this unusual orbit to allow them to provide broadband communications to underserved regions of the Earth with less latency than satellites in more distant geosynchronous orbit. Another four satellites will launch later this year, with plans to place as many as 20 satellites into orbit to provide continuous global service. Tuesday's launch was delayed a day by winds; weather also forced the launch to take place in the second of two windows available Tuesday.
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