OneWeb to Launch Satellites With Rival SpaceX After Suspending Ties With Russian Agency

Weeks after Moscow compelled the Eleventh-hour cancellation of a rocket launch for British satellite tv for pc enterprise OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the corporate mentioned on Monday it has contracted with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to ship its satellites into orbit. Phrases of the cope with California-based SpaceX, a direct competitor of OneWeb within the burgeoning broadband satellite tv for pc business, weren’t disclosed.

Earlier this month, OneWeb referred to as off the scheduled March 4 launch of 36 satellites from Baikonur and suspended ties with Russia’s area company Roscosmos due to last-minute calls for imposed on the corporate by Moscow, together with a assure that OneWeb’s know-how wouldn’t be used for navy functions.

The OneWeb launch scrub got here amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO governments, together with Britain, over financial sanctions imposed in opposition to Moscow by the West in response to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The British authorities, which holds a stake in OneWeb, additionally mentioned it was reviewing its participation in additional initiatives with Russia in gentle of the Ukraine disaster.

The British satellite tv for pc agency expects its first launch with SpaceX later this 12 months to add to its constellation of 428 satellites already in low-Earth orbit.

“With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites,” OneWeb Chief Govt Officer Neil Masterson mentioned.

OneWeb, which plans to supply common broadband by means of a community that may finally encompass 650 satellites, was rescued from chapter by the British authorities and Indian telecoms large Bharti World in 2020. Eutelsat Communications and SoftBank Group are amongst different buyers within the agency.

SpaceX’s Starlink, considered one of a number of ventures within the fast-growing satellite tv for pc broadband enterprise, together with Amazon subsidiary Challenge Kuiper, has put some 1,500 satellites in operation, offering web entry to areas underserved or arduous to attain for different companies.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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