Indo-UK Venture snubs Russia and signs with Elon Musk

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CHENNAI (IANS) – OneWeb, the India-British satellite communications joint venture, said on March 21 that it had reached an agreement with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to launch its satellites into low Earth orbit.

OneWeb is a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government.

According to OneWeb, it will resume satellite launches via SpaceX rockets.

“The first launch with SpaceX is scheduled for 2022 and will add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation which currently has 428 satellites, or 66% of the fleet. OneWeb’s network will provide high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.

“We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision of the unlimited potential of space. With these launch plans in place, we are on track to complete the construction of our full satellite fleet and deliver robust, fast and secure connectivity around the world,” said Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb.

The terms of the agreement with SpaceX founded by Elon Musk are confidential.

Earlier in the month, OneWeb’s board voted to suspend satellite launches from Russia’s Baikonur rocket port.

The suspension of launches is one of the consequences of the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

Based in London, OneWeb plans to have a constellation of 650 satellites in low Earth orbit to offer communication services.

To date, the company has launched 428 satellites. The latest bouquet, 34 satellites, was launched in February 2022 by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

The next batch of 36 satellites are to be launched from Baikonur using Russia’s Soyuz rocket.

The Russian Space Agency had also demanded a guarantee from OneWeb that the satellites will not be used for military purposes and also that the British government divest itself of its stake in the company.

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