Latest in

Image credit:

Virgin wants to launch 'world's largest' array of internet satellites

203 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Remember satellite internet provider Iridium's mid-'90s debacle? We're not sure Richard Branson does, as he and mobile chip giant Qualcomm are determined to help launch another internet satellite venture. In his usual low-key style, Sir Branson declared that the two companies will create "the world's largest ever satellite constellation" as the main backers of a startup called OneWeb. The idea is to launch 648 tiny satellites into low-earth orbit using Virgin Galactic's Launcher One program to bring telephone and internet to "billions of people" in underserved areas. Launcher One is a commercial satellite offshoot to Virgin Galactic's space tourism venture.

The elephant in the room for the new launch, of course, is the recent crash of SpaceShipTwo.

Branson figures that the program will "help make... frequent satellite launches (possible) at a much lower cost and greater reliability." The Launcher One rocket is boosted to 51,000 feet aboard the WhiteKnightTwo (above), from where it can launch lightweight, sub-500 pound packages into a near-earth orbit using much less fuel than conventional rockets. The elephant in the room for the new launch, of course, is the recent crash of SpaceShipTwo, which killed a pilot and seriously set back the program. That led to questions around the safety of the program, though Branson is adamant that the company took all necessary precautions.

But Launcher One is less risky for humans, and OneWeb wants to use clusters of satellites and spectrum to open up phone and internet to parts of the world with no access. Branson said the venture would keep Virgin Galactic busy with the "biggest order ever for putting satellites into space, adding "the company will have launched more satellites than there currently are in the sky."

Source: Virgin Galactic
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
203 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

'Minecraft' now has 112 million players per month

'Minecraft' now has 112 million players per month

View
Central banks to question Facebook over Libra cryptocurrency

Central banks to question Facebook over Libra cryptocurrency

View
Verizon will launch home 5G everywhere mobile service is available

Verizon will launch home 5G everywhere mobile service is available

View
Initial Creative Emmy winners include Apple, Netflix and NASA

Initial Creative Emmy winners include Apple, Netflix and NASA

View
New York state bans sales of flavored e-cigarettes

New York state bans sales of flavored e-cigarettes

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr