OneWeb satellites to hitch a ride onboard SpaceX rockets after cutting ties with Russia

The OneWeb logo on a white background

OneWeb, the low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, has confirmed that it will now hitch a ride onboard SpaceX rockets. The British “internet from space” company had recently suspended launches from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan due to the ongoing invasion.

OneWeb hasn’t divulged the terms of the new launch agreement. However, the company did indicate that the first launch with SpaceX is anticipated to take place this year. OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation currently stands at 428 satellites, but these represent 66 percent of the fleet. In other words, OneWeb could now be completely dependent on SpaceX to deliver about 220 LEO satellites in 2022.

It is not clear when SpaceX would launch OneWeb’s satellites, how many satellites it would deploy, which SpaceX launch vehicle would be used, or whether the deal includes more than one launch.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson offered a written statement, which reads:

We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space. 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.

Earlier this year, SpaceX’s LEO constellation crossed 2,000 satellites. It currently has authorization for 4,408 satellites, all in orbits at around 550 kilometers. SpaceX claims the reliability of its satellite network is currently higher than 99%. Moreover, the company boasts 250,000 users (and counting) across 25 countries.

Needless to add, these numbers and performance metrics are far higher than those of OneWeb. In fact, OneWeb claims it has activated service with its network at the 50th parallel and above, and early partners are initiating service. Simply put, SpaceX clearly does not see competition from OneWeb.

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