Airtel Says No More Russia: Will Launch Satellites With Elon Musk For Internet Connectivity Across India
British satellite venture OneWeb on Monday said that it has contracted with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to send its satellites into orbit.
How Did This Happen?
The move is followed by the event when Moscow forced the 11th-hour cancellation of a rocket launch for OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
So far, the terms of the deal with California-based SpaceX, which is also a direct competitor of OneWeb in the burgeoning broadband satellite industry, were not disclosed yet.
Prior to this, OneWeb called off the scheduled March 4 launch of 36 satellites from Baikonur, at the start of the month.
The company has suspended the ties with Russia’s space agency Roscosmos because of last-minute demands imposed on the company by Moscow, including a guarantee that OneWeb’s technology would not be used for military purposes.
Russia Ukraine Crisis Impact
The timing for the OneWeb launch scrub coincided with the heightened tensions between Russia and NATO governments, including Britain, over economic sanctions imposed against Moscow by the West in response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The British government said that it was reviewing its participation in further projects with Russia in light of the Ukraine crisis as it holds a stake in OneWeb.
OneWeb is expecting its first launch with SpaceX later this year to add to its constellation of 428 satellites already in low-Earth orbit.
On Track Development
The Chief Executive Officer of OneWeb, Neil Masterson said, “With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites,”.
During 2020, OneWeb’s plan to offer universal broadband through a network that will ultimately consist of 650 satellites, was rescued from bankruptcy by the British government and Indian telecoms giant Bharti Global.
Other investors include names like Eutelsat Communications (ETL.PA) and SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) in the firm.
One of several ventures in the fast-growing satellite broadband business include SpaceX’s Starlink.
Others like Amazon.com Inc subsidiary Project Kuiper, has put some 1,500 satellites in operation, providing internet access to regions underserved or hard to reach for other services.