OneWeb to launch satellites with rival SpaceX after suspending ties with Russian agency

(Reuters) – Weeks after Moscow forced the 11-hour cancellation of a rocket launch for Britain’s OneWeb satellite company from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the company said on Monday it had hired Elon Musk’s SpaceX to put their satellites in orbit.

Terms of the deal with California-based SpaceX, a direct competitor of OneWeb in the burgeoning broadband satellite industry, were not disclosed.

Earlier this month, OneWeb canceled the scheduled March 4 launch of 36 satellites from Baikonur and suspended ties with the Russian space agency Roscosmos due to last-minute demands imposed on the company by Moscow, including a guarantee that OneWeb’s technology would not be used for military purposes. purposes read more

The OneWeb launch cleanup came amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO governments, including Britain, over economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West in response to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The British government, which has a stake in OneWeb, also said it was reviewing its involvement in other projects with Russia in light of the Ukraine crisis. Read more

The British satellite firm expects its first launch with SpaceX later this year to add to its constellation of 428 satellites already in low Earth orbit.

“With these launch plans underway, we are well on our way to finishing building our entire fleet of satellites,” said OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson.

OneWeb, which plans to offer universal broadband over a network that will ultimately consist of 650 satellites, was rescued from bankruptcy by the British government and Indian telecoms giant Bharti Global in 2020. Eutelsat Communications (ETL.PA) and SoftBank Group Corp (9984. T) are among other investors in the company.

SpaceX’s Starlink, one of several companies in the fast-growing satellite broadband business, including Inc subsidiary Project Kuiper, has put some 1,500 satellites into operation, bringing Internet access to underserved or hard-to-reach regions. for other services.

Reporting from Akash Sriram in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Edited by Maju Samuel and Jonathan Oatis
Reuters source.