A satellite internet company dumped Russia in favor of Elon Musk’s SpaceX

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk next to a Falcon 9 launch photo

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk next to the Falcon 9 launch.Photo: Reuters/Mike Brown/Getty Images

  • OneWeb has announced that it has reached an agreement with SpaceX to launch its satellites within the year.

  • The partnership comes after the company suspended future launches with the Russian Space Agency.

  • Roscosmos has demanded that OneWeb sever ties with the UK government.

A British satellite company announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement with SpaceX allowing it to resume satellite launches after severing ties with the Russian space agency earlier this month.

The London-based startup said that SpaceX will launch its first batch of OneWeb satellites within the year, but did not provide any details on the terms of the agreement. OneWeb is a direct competitor to SpaceX’s Starlink service as the two companies work to provide affordable internet services around the world.

“We thank SpaceX for its support, which reflects our shared vision of the limitless potential of space,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said in a press release. “With these launch plans in place, we are on track to finish building our entire fleet of satellites and deliver strong, fast and secure connectivity around the world.”

SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment from Insider.

OneWeb initially called off its Russian Soyuz missile launch and announced that it would suspend all future launches from Baikonur, the Kazakhstan spaceport where Russia conducts most launches, just days before the company is set to send 36 satellites into orbit.

The decision to cancel the launch with Roscosmos came after the agency imposed conditions on future launches. The agency demanded that the UK government sell its multi-billion dollar stake in OneWeb and that the company ensure that the satellites are not used for military purposes, according to a deadline posted on the site. Twitter From the official Roscosmos account. The agency said at the time that its demands were “because of the British anti-Russian position”.

Kwasi Querting, UK Minister for Business and Energy, chirp In response to Roscosmos’ post that “There will be no negotiation for OneWeb.”

“The UK government is not selling its stake,” he wrote on Twitter.

The head of the Russian Space Agency, Dmitry Rogozin, has indicated that OneWeb will go bankrupt again without Soyuz missiles, according to a report from The New York Times. At the time, Chris McLaughlin, OneWeb’s head of government affairs, dismissed Rogozin’s warning. Previously, the company emerged from bankruptcy in 2020, after a $1 billion investment in stocks from several groups, including the British government and India’s Bharti Ventures.

Rogozin too Post a video On Twitter, agency staff are shown covering the British, American and Japanese flags placed on the inside of the missile.

“The Baikonur launchers decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful,” Rogozin said on Twitter, according to an inside translation of the tweet.

Roscosmos’ ultimatum came a day before the agency said it would halt sales of missile engines to the United States amid a growing number of Western sanctions.

OneWeb isn’t the only company that cut ties with Roscosmos. Last week, the European Space Agency said it no longer plans to launch the ExoMars mission in September on a Russian rocket.

The launch was part of OneWeb’s plan to create a constellation of 648 satellites. To date, the company has 428 satellites in orbit. For comparison, SpaceX has launched more than 2,000 Starlink satellites into orbit and plans to create a constellation of more than 42,000. The space project is scheduled to begin launching its twelfth weekly satellite later this week.

Musk has a long history with the head of the Russian space. The CEO has repeatedly offered SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon as an alternative to the Soyuz rocket.

Translations by Oleksandr Vinogradov.

Read the original article on Business Insider