A Europeanized Russian Soyuz rocket placed four O3b Networks high-throughput Ka- broadband satellites into O3b’s unique 8,000-kilometer-altitude orbit, giving O3b a bigger margin for error as it manages its constellation, now comprising 12 satellites.

PARIS — The first four O3b Networks Ka-band broadband satellites have successfully cleared in-orbit testing and their operation is being transferred from prime contractor Thales Alenia Space to O3b shareholder SES’s Luxembourg campus, Thales Alenia Space announced July 26.

The four 700-kilogram O3b satellites were launched June 25 aboard a Europeanized Soyuz rocket. They operate in an equatorial orbit at 8,063 kilometers in altitude, an unusual orbital architecture designed to minimize the time it takes a signal to travel between the satellites and their ground users.

Based in Britain’s Channel Islands, O3b has eight more satellites under construction by Cannes, France-based Thales Alenia Space. The next four are scheduled for launch in September, also aboard a Europeanized Soyuz. A September launch would permit O3b to begin initial commercial service before the end of the year.

The third four-satellite batch is scheduled for a Soyuz launch in 2014. O3b and satellite fleet operator SES have said that a positive reaction from O3b’s target commercial and governmental markets would trigger an order for more satellites. SES officials have said the O3b orbit could host up to 120 satellites.

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.