OneWeb Inks SpaceX Deal for Satellite Launches, Cuts Russian Agency

A London-based satellite internet company has been granted rights to resume launching its internet constellation as soon as this year.

OneWeb announced on March 21 that it had officially reached a deal with SpaceX, effectively letting the company continue to launch its low-Earth orbit (LEO) internet constellation, according to Space News.

In a press release detailing the announcement, OneWeb said, “The first launch with SpaceX is anticipated in 2022 and will add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation that currently stands at 428 satellites, or 66 percent of the fleet.”

Amidst the ongoing Russian invasion into Ukraine, OneWeb chose to cancel six planned Soyuz launches. Russia’s state-backed space agency, Roscosmos, had previously demanded OneWeb agree its satellites would not be used for military purposes. The British government has a stake in OneWeb and the demand was seen as unreasonable.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said the agreement with SpaceX puts the company back on track to finish its satellite constellation, despite the cancellation.

The first OneWeb launch is expected to take place in 2022, and will add to its current fleet, with the total OneWeb constellation set to include 648 satellites upon completion.

OneWeb spokesperson Katie Dowd declined to comment on specific details of the contract.

OneWeb’s internet service is now operational at the 50th parallel and above, and the company works with a combination of telecommunications providers, aviation and maritime markets and governments in multiple markets.

More than 5,000 of SpaceX’s Starlink terminals in Ukraine are now operational, after the company delivered around four batches of hardware to the country.