UK’s OneWeb satellites launch refuses by Russia

Russia’s space agency has refused to launch OneWeb internet satellites unless the company provides assurances they won’t be used for military purposes and the UK sells its stake in OneWeb. Roscosmos was scheduled to launch 36 satellites on a Soyuz rocket on Friday.

Roscosmos rolled a Soyuz rocket out to the launch pad at the Russia-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying 36 satellites for the London-based company OneWeb.

Shortly after the rollout, Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin made an online statement that the agency will not launch the satellites as planned if the company does not guarantee that the craft will not be used for military purposes

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To date, 428 OneWeb satellites have been launched to low Earth orbit on Soyuz rockets. OneWeb plans to provide global internet coverage from space using 648 first-generation satellites.

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A Friday launch is highly questionable at this point, for the demands are unlikely to be met.

“There’s no negotiation on OneWeb: the UK Government is not selling its share. We are in touch with other shareholders to discuss next steps,” UK Member of Parliament Kwasi Kwarteng, who serves as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said via Twitter today.

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Meanwhile, SpaceX has delivered Starlink satellite internet terminals to Ukraine following a pledge by Elon Musk. It’s believed that the government may use Starlink to stay online as the conflict continues.

The Russian demands come amidst the nation’s invasion of Ukraine, an action that has been vehemently condemned by many countries around the world, including the US and UK. Such condemnation has included new economic sanctions, imposed by the US and other nations.

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Roscosmos has been cutting ties with some of its long-time partners, citing the sanctions as rationale. For example, Roscosmos announced on Feb. 26 that it will no longer collaborate with the European Space Agency at the European spaceport in French Guiana, on the north coast of South America.

About the author

Naqvi Syed

Naqvi Syed is is a freelance journalist who has contributed to several publications, including Spacepsychiatrist. He tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. He works with Spacepsychiatrist from a long time.


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