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Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully launched 40 satellites for competing communications company OneWeb on Friday. The occurred just several miles away from the same pad where Apollo astronauts blasted off for the moon, the last time on 7 December 1972.

It’s the first of three planned missions. The next two dedicated launches with SpaceX are planned through the spring of next year, in addition to another launch with ISRO.

The Falcon rocket blasted off at sunset with 40 mini satellites bound for polar orbit. They will expand OneWeb’s constellation to just over 500, nearly 80% of the planned total of about 630 satellites.

OneWeb, which is building an initial constellation of 648 satellites in low Earth Orbit, had originally contracted to launch all of the company’s satellites on Russian Soyuz rockets. But after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the British company broke ties with Russia in March. Russian Soyuz rockets already had launched 13 batches of OneWeb satellites, beginning in 2019.

Thereafter OneWeb secured launch agreements with SpaceX, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and startup Relativity.

OneWeb already is providing internet service in Alaska, Canada and northern Europe; the newest satellites will increase the range to the entire U.S. and Europe, as well as large parts of Africa and South America, and elsewhere, according to Ladovaz.

OneWeb satellites — each about the size of a washing machine and weighing 330 pounds (150 kilograms) — are built at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center through a joint venture with France’s Airbus.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has more than 3,200 Starlink satellites in orbit, providing high-speed, broadband internet to remote corners of the world.

Amazon plans to launch the first of its internet satellites early next year from Cape Canaveral.

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