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SpaceX will launch OneWeb’s satellites following Russia's ultimatum

The demands were deemed a non-starter.

A long exposure shows a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon capsule, as it is launched carrying three NASA and one ESA astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. November 10, 2021. REUTERS/Thom Baur     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Thom Baur / reuters
Igor Bonifacic
Igor Bonifacic|@igorbonifacic|March 21, 2022 6:05 PM

OneWeb will turn to a competitor to ferry its remaining first-generation internet satellites to space after Russia's Roscosmos space agency issued an ultimatum to the company at the start of the month. On Monday, OneWeb announced an agreement with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The private firm will ferry the remainder of OneWeb’s constellation fleet, with the first launch scheduled for later this year.

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

On March 3rd, Roscosmos, just days before it was scheduled to put 36 OneWeb satellites in space, said it would not conduct any additional launches for OneWeb unless the company made assurances its network would not be used for military purposes and the UK sold its minority stake in OneWeb. The demand came in response to sanctions the UK imposed on Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th. At the time, the UK government said it would not sell its stake in OneWeb. To date, Russian Soyuz rockets have carried 428 OneWeb satellites to low Earth orbit. OneWeb’s first-generation network will eventually consist of 648 satellites.

SpaceX will launch OneWeb’s satellites following Russia's ultimatum