A Soyuz rocket takes off Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with 34 OneWeb satellites. Credit: Roscosmos
A day after SpaceX launched 51 Starlink broadband satellites from California, a Russian Soyuz rocket fired into orbit Tuesday from a spaceport halfway around the world, shepherding 34 more satellites for the commercial internet network being constructed by rival OneWeb.
The back-to-back missions continue the rapid deployment of the dueling internet networks, with more Starlink and OneWeb launches scheduled next month.
OneWeb’s launch took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:07:19 p.m. EDT (1807:19 GMT; 11:07:19 p.m. Baikonur time). The 34 satellites rode a Soyuz-2.1b launcher and a Fregat upper stage into orbit.
The kerosene-fueled Soyuz fired away from Baikonur on a northerly heading to reach a 280-mile-high (450-kilometer) polar orbit.
Less than 10 minutes after liftoff, the Soyuz rocket’s third stage shut down and deployed the Fregat upper stage. The Fregat, fed by a mix of storable hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants, fired its main engine two times to place the 34 satellite into the targeted orbit, according to Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
Tuesday’s launch marked the 100th flight of a Fregat upper stage since 2000. The space ...