OneWeb deal with SpaceX
OneWeb, satellite broadband provider owned partly by the British government, announced a surprising move to launch a number of its satellites with SpaceX rockets. Just a reminder, SpaceX operated Starlink is OneWeb’s rival.
OneWeb and SpaceX Deal
OneWeb had a contract with Russian space agency Roscosmos and while everything was going (relatively) well.. apart from financial issues and bailout by British government obviously, the war in Ukraine and ensuing sanctions against Russia changed a lot. Roscosmos boss, Dmitri Rogozin decided to block OneWeb’s launches until sufficient guarantees will be received that OneWeb won’t be used for military purposes. The response from OneWeb was swift, suspension of all launches on Russian rockets. Only two weeks later OneWeb announced a deal with SpaceX with first launch expected later this year. The terms of the agreement are confidential but Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO is confident with this new development the company is on track to deliver “robust, fast, secure connectivity around the globe.”
Starlink has already 2,100 satellites in orbit but it is OneWeb that is closer to completing the task with 428 out of total 648 planned already in orbit. According to OneWeb’s data the company has already activated services above the 50th parallel in the Northern Hemisphere. Starlink is currently operating in public beta across 29 countries globally reportedly acquiring over 250,000 customers globally. The services are available in the UK and Ireland competing with Eutelsat’s Konnect and older Ka-SAT services offered by BigBlu. Starlink mega constellation is still far from being completed with only half of the satellites in orbit. Half of the satellites from the initial applications, we must say, as the total of currently applied for is a shocking 42,000!
OneWeb’s headquarters are in London with offices in California, Florida, Virginia, Dubai and Singapore. First OneWeb’s satellites were launched in February 2019. The satellites were build by OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb. The satellite are in what’s called low Earth orbit, at approximately 1,200 km altitude and broadcast in the Ku-band of the radio frequency spectrum. In 2020 OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to financial difficulties and was subsequently saved by the purchase of its assets by the Government of the United Kingdom and Bharti Global, an Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered in New Delhi.