Just weeks after the British satellite OneWeb was forced to cancel its 11th-hour rocket launch from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the agency said Monday it had struck a deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to send a satellite into orbit. OneWeb’s direct rival in the growing broadband satellite industry, California-based SpaceX, did not disclose the terms of its agreement.
Earlier this month, OneWeb canceled the March 4 launch of 36 satellites from Baikonur and suspended ties with the Russian space agency Roscosmos because of Moscow’s last-minute demands on the company, which included a guarantee that OneWeb’s technology would be used for military purposes. No. Purpose
The OneWeb launch scrub came amid intense tensions between Russia and NATO governments, including Britain, over economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West in response to Russia’s February 24 attack on Ukraine.
The British government, which owns a stake in OneWeb, also said it was reviewing its participation in further projects with Russia in light of the Ukraine crisis.
The British satellite firm expects its first launch with SpaceX later this year to add to the constellations of 428 satellites already in low-Earth orbit.
“With this launch plan, we’re on track to build our entire fleet of satellites,” said OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson.
OneWeb, which plans to offer universal broadband through a network that will eventually consist of 650 satellites, was rescued by the British government and Indian telecom giant Bharti from global bankruptcy in 2020. Other investors in the firm include Utelsat Communications and Softbank Group.
SpaceX’s Starlink, one of several initiatives in the fast-growing satellite broadband business, including the Amazon subsidiary Kuiper, has launched about 1,500 satellites where service is not available or accessible for other services.
Thomson Reuters 2022