OneWeb Makes Deal With SpaceX After Suspending Ties With Russians

After Moscow canceled a launch of OneWeb’s rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan in the eleventh hour, the company announced Monday that it had signed a contract with SpaceX and Elon Musk to send its satellites into orbit.

The terms of the deal with SpaceX in California, which is a direct competitor to OneWeb in the rapidly growing broadband satellite industry, weren’t disclosed.

OneWeb canceled the March 4 launch of 36 satellites at Baikonur. It also suspended all ties with Russia’s aerospace agency Roscosmos due to Moscow’s last-minute demands. This included a promise that OneWeb’s technology wouldn’t be used for military purposes.

OneWeb’s launch came amid increased tensions between Russia, NATO, and Britain over economic sanctions imposed by the West against Moscow in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th.

OneWeb’s British stakeholder, the British government, said that it was reviewing its involvement in future projects with Russia due to the Ukraine crisis.

SpaceX will launch the first British satellite company later in the year. This will add to the 428 satellites that are already in low-Earth orbit.

Neil Masterson, Chief Executive Officer at OneWeb, stated that “With these launch plans in place we’re on the track to finish building our full fleet of satellites,”

OneWeb, which plans on offering universal broadband via a network of 650 satellites in the future, was saved from bankruptcy by Bharti Global, the British government, and Indian telecoms giant Bharti Global. Other investors include Eutelsat Communications and SoftBank Group Corp 

SpaceX’s Starlink is one of many ventures in the fast-growing satellite broadband industry, which includes Inc subsidiary Project, Kuiper. It has placed approximately 1,500 satellites into operation, providing internet access in areas that are difficult to reach or underserved by other services.

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