Taxpayer-backed OneWeb to resume satellite launches after SpaceX deal

OneWeb’s plans to use a launch site overseen by Russia’s space agency were abandoned following the invasion of Ukraine.

21 March 2022

Taxpayer-backed satellite firm OneWeb has announced it will resume launches after a deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

OneWeb cancelled a planned launch of 36 broadband satellites earlier this month because it would have used Russian Soyuz rockets and been overseen by the Russian space agency.

The firm has now done a deal with SpaceX and the first launch is anticipated later this year.

The move will allow the firm to resume its plans to add further satellites to its constellation in low earth orbit.

The company had bowed to pressure following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to suspend launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan because of the links to Russia.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said: “We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space.

“With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites and deliver robust, fast, secure connectivity around the globe.”

The UK Government took a £400 million stake in OneWeb to rescue it from bankruptcy in July 2020, as part of a consortium with India’s Bharti Global, following a bidding war.

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