OneWeb to launch satellites with rival SpaceX after suspending ties with Russian agency -Breaking
© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: After the cancellation of the launch at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 4, 2022, a Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster equipped with Fregat upper stages and satellites from British company OneWeb was removed from a launchpad. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTER/File Photo
(Reuters] – A week after Moscow canceled a rocket launch by British satellite venture OneWeb at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome near Kazakhstan in the eleventh hour, SpaceX announced Monday that the company had contracted with Elon Musk for its satellites to orbit.
It was not known what the terms of the deal were with SpaceX (California-based) which is OneWeb’s direct competitor in the growing broadband satellite market.
OneWeb had to postpone the launch of 36 satellites in Baikonur on March 4, and suspend all relations with Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency. Moscow made last-minute demands, which included a promise that OneWeb’s technology will not be used for military reasons.
OneWeb’s launch came amid increased tensions between Russia, NATO and Britain over sanctions placed against Moscow by the West as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.
OneWeb is owned by the British government. It also stated that it was reviewing its involvement in future projects with Russia due to the Ukraine crisis.
SpaceX is expected to launch its first rocket with the British satellite firm later this year. It will add to SpaceX’s constellation of 428 satellites 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 Executive Officer Neil Masterson said.
OneWeb plans to provide universal broadband via a network of 650 satellites. It was saved from bankruptcy in 2020 by Bharti Global, the Indian telecoms company, and Britain’s government. SoftBank Group Corp and Eutelsat Communications are two other investors.
SpaceX’s Starlink venture, part of the growing satellite broadband market, includes Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:) subsidiary Project Kuiper. The 1,500 satellites provide internet access to remote areas, making it possible to offer other services to those regions that may not be accessible.
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