Sanctions? What sanctions?

Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) While diplomats debated the renewal of sanctions against Russia in Brussels, a Russian-made Soyuz rocket was successfully launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, on Friday. The rocket carries four O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) communication satellites, operated by the SES Networks, the world’s leading satellite operating company. The Soyuz craft is also fitted with another Russian-made module – Fregat-MT upper stage – which is expected to put the satellites into their designated orbits. The Soyuz launch vehicles have been used at the Kourou spaceport since 2011, where Russian Glavcosmos and French Arianespace work in cooperation. Friday’s launch was the eighteenth launch of the Soyuz family of rockets from the space center, and the fourth time it has carried the O3b satellites.

Steve Collar, Chief Executive Officer at SES Networks, and CEO designate of SES, said, “We are very excited to have four more O3b satellites in orbit, and we look forward to them joining the constellation in May and serving our customers around the globe. The demand for high performance bandwidth and networks continues to grow and, as the only successful non-geostationary broadband system, we need these new satellites to fulfil demand across a wide range of verticals and applications. From connecting underserved communities and meaningfully transforming lives through improved broadband access, to delivering state of the art satellite-enabled network services to ships, planes and government platforms, our O3b fleet offers unique and differentiated performance and is driving our customers’ businesses forward.”

Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES, added, “This was the fourth launch performed by Arianespace for our O3b fleet and we have yet another batch of O3b satellites planned for 2019 on their Soyuz rocket as well. This is the beauty of our MEO constellation: it can easily be scaled to respond to demand in an agile manner while beams can be allocated dynamically to where the demand is, and thus deliver low-latency connectivity where our customers need it. By augmenting our fleet, we will offer more throughput, more coverage, and more capabilities to our customers.”

Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said, “With this second launch of the year, the 18th Soyuz from the Guiana Space Center, Arianespace is very proud of the confidence placed by SES in our service solutions for both MEO satellites and GEO satellites. We are very pleased to support our long-standing partner SES in the expansion and evolution of its O3b fleet.”