OneWeb reaches agreement to launch satellites with SpaceX after cutting ties with Russian space agency

Science

OneWeb will resume satellite launches with Elon Musk's SpaceX, the British satellite communications company said on Monday after it suspended launches from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with a Fregat upper stage and satellites of British firm OneWeb is removed from a launchpad after the launch was cancelled at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, March 4, 2022.(Roscosmos/Handout via Reuters)

OneWeb will resume satellite launches with Elon Musk's SpaceX, the British satellite communications company said on Monday after it suspended launches from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

OneWeb did not disclose terms of the new launch agreement.

Earlier in March, OneWeb, said it would halt launches after Moscow's space agency Roscosmos demanded guarantees that its technology would not be used for military purposes.

The British government, which holds a stake in OneWeb, said that it was reviewing its participation in further projects with Russia after its "illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine."

The British firm expects its first launch with SpaceX this year to add to its in-orbit constellation of 428 satellites.

"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, which will offer broadband via a constellation of 650 satellites, was rescued from bankruptcy by the British government and Bharti Global in 2020. Eutelsat Communications and SoftBank Group Corp are among other investors in the firm.

SpaceX's Starlink too uses low earth orbit satellites to provide internet access to regions that are underserved or hard to reach for other service providers.

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