OneWeb's satellites ahead of launch. Photo:

OneWeb — a company hoping to bring broadband to millions of underserved users around the world — launched 34 of its internet-beaming satellites to orbit on Thursday.

Why it matters: A number of companies, including SpaceX and Amazon, are also planning to launch their own broadband constellations, making this a growing but competitive part of the space industry.

Details: This launch marks the beginning of a series of launches this year designed to build out OneWeb's satellite constellation.

  • The company plans to provide partial coverage by the end of the year with full global services starting in 2021.
  • In total, the company plans to have 648 satellites as part of the initial constellation.
  • OneWeb launched six satellites to orbit last year.

Between the lines: OneWeb is also focused on making sure that it's a responsible user of space.

  • The company is planning to affix its satellite with grappling technology that will allow a satellite servicing craft to either deorbit or help fix any spacecraft that is no longer functional in orbit, preventing it from becoming space junk that might threaten other spacecraft.

The intrigue: It's still not clear exactly how much of a market there will be for these kinds of space-based internet services.

  • "We don't know how big the market is for consumer broadband, but it may not be much bigger than we have today," technology consultant Tim Farrar told Axios in November.
  • Astronomers are also worried about what these satellites will mean for the future of their profession, with thousands of internet-beaming spacecraft launching to orbit in the coming years that could streak through their images, obscuring faint objects in need of study like asteroids.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 19,499,341 — Total deaths: 723,881 — Total recoveries — 11,864,471Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30p.m. ET: 4,999,836 — Total deaths: 162,382 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats slam Trump, urge GOP to return to negotiations
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.

Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive actions to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

9 hours ago - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.