UK company OneWeb signs with SpaceX after Russia refuses to launch its satellites

Space agency Roscosmos said it would only launch the satellites if private company cut all links with British government

Turkey's first mini satellite, Grizu-263A, blasts off from Florida into space on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Getty Images
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

UK company OneWeb has signed an agreement with SpaceX to launch its satellites, which Russia refused to deliver on their Soyuz rocket.

The satellites were initially meant to launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket on March 5, but space agency Roscosmos removed the satellites after OneWeb, a private company, refused to sever links with the UK government.

Roscosmos gave the company an ultimatum in response to the sanctions imposed by the UK on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Now, OneWeb has managed to secure a launch with its competitor – Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster with a Fregat upper stage and satellites of British firm OneWeb is removed from a launchpad in Kazakhstan. Reuters

Both companies are trying to build a constellation of satellites that provides global internet connectivity.

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

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 first launch with SpaceX is expected in 2022, helping add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation, which currently stands at 428 satellites.

OneWeb’s network aims to deliver high-speed and low-latency global connectivity.

Updated: March 21, 2022, 2:58 PM