Russia refuses to launch OneWeb internet satellites following UK sanctions

Roscosmos wants assurances about non-military use and the UK government to divest its stake.

Roscosmos Press Office via Getty Images

Russia's space agency has refused to launch OneWeb internet satellites unless the company provides assurances they won't be used for military purposes and the UK sells its stake in OneWeb. Roscosmos was scheduled to launch 36 satellites on a Soyuz rocket on Friday.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said the agency made the demands in response to the UK issuing sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, as CNBC reports. Among other things, the government banned Russian ships from entering UK ports and sanctioned most of Russia’s financial system.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK's business and energy secretary, suggested Roscosmos' demands were a non-starter. "There's no negotiation on OneWeb: the UK Government is not selling its share," he wrote on Twitter. "We are in touch with other shareholders to discuss next steps." Rogozin said he'd give the UK two days to reconsider.

To date, 428 OneWeb satellites have been launched to low Earth orbit on Soyuz rockets. OneWeb plans to provide global internet coverage from space using 648 first-generation satellites.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has delivered Starlink satellite internet terminals to Ukraine following a pledge by Elon Musk. It's believed that the government may use Starlink to stay online as the conflict continues.

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