On Monday, March 21, 2022, OneWeb announced that it has come to an agreement with SpaceX, which will enable OneWeb to resume satellite launches.
OneWeb, a London-based global communications network company, is owned partly by the United Kingdom (UK) government and is also contracted with Russia's state space corporation, Roscosmos. Due to the worldwide sanctions against Russia with its invasion in Ukraine, Roscosmos demanded guarantees that the UK would divest from OneWeb and that OneWeb's technology would not be used for military applications.
OneWeb refused to comply and responded by suspending all launches on Russian rockets. In a surprising move, Oneweb is partnering with its competitor, SpaceX, and launching a number of satellites on SpaceX rockets. The exact terms of the deal are "confidential", according to OneWeb.
Both OneWeb and SpaceX are building constellations in the sky to deliver broadband internet connections. SpaceX has more than 2,000 satellites in its Starlink system in orbit. OneWeb is powered by a constellation of 648 low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites and has activated service above the 50th parallel north. Under the new contract with OneWeb, SpaceX would follow a different architecture that is much lower in the sky.
OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said, “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.”
OneWeb will resume launches in 2022.