Richard Branson plans to build `satellite constellations` to provide internet access to all

Washington: After venturing into space business, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, is now pouring money into OneWeb, a satellite-internet company owned by former Google Satellite executive Greg Wyler.

The project, if successful, could transform the world, providing high speed internet and making telephony available to billions of people around the world, who currently don’t have access.

OneWeb,which is currently based in Britain, wants to bring internet access to those who do not possess it, including third world countries, rural areas in developed countries like the US, and airlines. The service will be powered by a constellation of 648 satellites, reported The Verge.

OneWeb, previously called WorldVu, will launch the 250-pound satellites using Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne, a rocket created to launch cargo into orbit, at a much lower cost and with greater reliability.

The company is developing small user terminals that will provide internet access at a rate of 50 megabits per second.

The construction of the initial constellation is expected to cost about two billion dollars.

According to Branson, LauncherOne is more efficient than the big rockets of the past for delivering satellites into space, adding that it can take off every three or four hours.

If the initial launch is successful, the company could launch up to 2,400 satellites, Branson said.

Branson also wrote that by the time the company developed its second constellation , the company would have launched more satellites than there currently are in the sky.

The launch is expected to happen in 2017.

On October 31, 2014, Branson-owned Virgin Galactic’s first commercial craft ‘VSS Enterprise’ crashed during a test flight in California’s Mojave Desert, killing one pilot in the disaster.

(With Agency inputs)

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