Moscow (AFP)

A Russian Soyuz rocket, operated by the European Arianespace, launched overnight from Saturday to Sunday 34 new satellites from the British operator Oneweb, which is deploying a constellation to provide high-speed internet all over the world.

The rocket took off "successfully" at 10:13 p.m. GMT on Saturday from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) said in a statement.

This is the fifth OneWeb satellite launch this year, about two months after the July 1 launch.

In total, with this last mission, 288 satellites will now be in orbit for this constellation.

OneWeb, owned by the British government with the Indian Bharti, foresees an operational global internet at the end of 2022 thanks to a network of 650 satellites.

Under a contract with the European Arianespace confirmed in September 2020, 16 Soyuz shots are scheduled between December 2020 and the end of 2022 to complete the network.

In a separate statement on Sunday, Arianespace, which placed a total of 41 satellites in orbit in less than a month this summer on 3 different launchers (Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega), clarified that there were only ten launches left to perform with Soyuz launchers in 2021 and 2022 to complete the Oneweb constellation.

Several projects with a view to setting up constellations providing space and a global internet are in progress.

American billionaire Elon Musk, head of the space company SpaceX, has put more than 1,500 satellites into orbit for this purpose to create the Starlink network.

Amazon founder American Jeff Bezos has a similar project called Kuiper.

© 2021 AFP