OneWeb: Russia’s space agency refuses to launch internet satellites, points to UK sanctions

OneWeb, a London-based satellite startup striving for global Internet connectivity and a major competitor to Elon Musk’s satellite internet constellation StarLink, rejected Russian demands to sever ties with the UK government on Thursday.

The company is set to launch a constellation of 36 Internet satellites on Friday as part of its plan for a constellation of 648 satellites. But the Russian space agency Roscosmos appearseD set to block the effort on Wednesday.

The Russian-made Soyuz rocket operated by France’s Arianespace SA was intended to deliver satellites into low Earth orbit, launching them from the Russian-owned Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. OneWeb and Russia signed a multi-year satellite launch agreement, with the company launching its satellites exclusively on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

But Dmitriy Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos and a former deputy prime minister with inflammatory rhetoric, refuses to move forward with what should be a routine launch in response to the UK’s sanctions on Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

The agency has demanded that the UK government sell all of its stakes in OneWeb and that the company ensure that the satellites are not used for military purposes, according to an alert note set out in Twitter From the official Roscosmos account. On Wednesday, Roscosmos stressed that the demands were “due to the UK’s hostile attitude towards Russia”. Rogozin said the deadline for requests to be fulfilled was set at 9:30 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday Interview with Russia 24.

“The OneWeb board of directors has voted to suspend all launches from Baikonur,” the British company said in a statement on Thursday.

OneWeb already has 428 satellites in orbit, with The last satellite launch was just last month. The company is working to attract clients and repay investors after the UK government and India’s Bharti company save it global From bankruptcy in the year 2020.

Rogozin has tweeted inflammatory comments in the past in response to Western sanctions – specifically in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “After analyzing the sanctions imposed on our space industry, I propose to the United States to bring astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline,” Rogozin said at the time. On Twitter after US sanctions against the Russian space sector.

Despite Rogozin’s inflammatory tweets and interviews, the United States and Russia Historically they collaborated in space. While tensions on Earth have led to threats of an early exit, Rogozin promised Russia would remain a NASA partner on the International Space Station at least until the station’s eventual retirement.
British lawmakers on Wednesday showed no sign of bowing to Roscomos and succumbing to the demands ahead of OpenWeb’s response. “No negotiation to OneWeb: UK government not selling stake,” chirp Kwasi Querting, Britain’s Minister for Business and Energy on Wednesday. “We are in contact with other shareholders to discuss next steps…”

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