First four satellites of the nascent O3b fleet have successfully concluded the launch and early orbit operations, the company has announced.
O3b has now taken over the in-orbit control and operation of the satellites from the manufacturer Thales Alenia Space. The first four satellites of the planned 12-spacecraft fleet were launched at the end of June from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
"We are very pleased to celebrate the in-orbit acceptance of the first four O3b satellites,” said Jean Loic Galle, CEO of Thales Alenia Space. “With the upcoming four additional satellites to be launched at the end of September, we wish great success to O3b Networks in the development of its business.”
The Ka-band satellites, circling the Earth at an altitude of 8,062km, are designed to provide fibre-optic-speed Internet access to developing countries that have so far been suffering from very limited connectivity.
"The handover was successfully completed ahead of schedule. Performance of all four spacecraft has been outstanding with all link parameters at or above specification,” said O3b’s CTO Brian Holz. “Thanks to the great work of the O3b and Thales teams, we can now look forward to our second launch with great confidence."
After the second group of four satellites has been launched in September, O3b will start preparing for the commercial start of its operations currently planned for the end of 2013. The final four satellites are scheduled for launch at the beginning of 2014.
When fully operational, the O3b constellation should cover 180 countries, providing them with low-cost, high-speed and low-latency Internet and mobile connectivity.
The project’s investors include SES, Google, Liberty Global, HSBC Principal Investments, Northbridge Venture Partners, Allen & Company, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina, Satya Capital and Luxempart.