Satellite internet provider OneWeb has been forced to ask rival SpaceX to help put its satellites into orbit, after the British company’s previous launch partner, Russian state-owned Roscosmos, tried to pressure the company to reject sanctions for the war in Ukraine.
OneWeb announced that it had reached an agreement with its competitor SpaceX to resume launching its constellation of internet satellites later this year, just 18 days after Roscosmos suspended launches of the devices, which were to take place using Russian Soyuz rockets. The Russian space agency had also recently been hacked by Anonymous.
As a reminder, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, demanded that OneWeb’s satellites not be used for military purposes. OneWeb refused, and so Russia withdrew the 36 satellites that were to be launched by its Soyuz rocket on March 4, 2022, thus forcing OneWeb to turn to its main competitor SpaceX, which is already deploying its own constellation of internet satellites Starlink.
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OneWeb saved by SpaceX after being abandoned by the Russians
The Russian ultimatum did not go down well with executives at OneWeb, which is jointly owned by the UK government and India’s Bharti Global. The company was therefore obliged to suspend all other launches with Russia and seek an alternate launch provider midway through the multi-year process of deploying its constellation. The company finally asked rival SpaceX for help.who did not take long to accept.
” We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision of the unlimited potential of space. said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, in a statement today. ” With these launch plans in place, we are on track to complete the construction of our full fleet of satellites and deliver robust, fast and secure connectivity around the globe. “.
The first launch with SpaceX is scheduled for 2022 and will add satellites to the constellation already in orbit of OneWeb which currently has 428 satellitesor 66% of the planned total fleet of 648 satellites. OneWeb’s network will provide high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.