Russia cancels OneWeb satellite launch; SpaceX gets the business

In a statement, the company did not say how many of its satellites SpaceX would launch or how many launches it would take. As of now, OneWeb has 428 satellites in orbit, or 66 percent of the fleet, the company said, that would provide Internet capability to ground users.

“We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said in a statement. “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.”

After the United Kingdom joined in sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine, Russia had said it would not fly OneWeb’s satellites unless it complied with a list of demands, including that the British government sell its substantial stake in the company and that the satellite could not be used for military purposes. When those conditions were not met, Russia pulled the rocket, leaving OneWeb to find another ride.

That did not take more than a couple of weeks. And Russia’s decision to refuse to launch the satellites had perhaps an unintended consequence – handing SpaceX another launch contract and another potentially substantial deal.

SpaceX has also taken over launching US astronauts to the International Space Station, a task that had been Russia’s for years. After the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA had no choice but to rely on Russia to ferry its astronauts to the station. And those trips did not come cheap: Russia charged as much as $ 85 million a seat.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has been sparring with the Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russia space agency, who has said it will no longer provide US companies with the engines they need to power their vehicles and that they would have to use a “broomstick” to get to orbit.

Meanwhile, SpaceX continues to build out its own Starlink satellite constellation. A SpaceX official said Monday that the company has 250,000 subscribers and has a fleet of about 2,000 satellites on orbit. At its manufacturing facility in Redmond, Washington, it is producing about eight satellites a day, he said.

During a recent Starlink launch, SpaceX’s online broadcast commentator said: “Time to let the American broomstick fly and hear the sound of freedom.”

Starlink has also taken on a growing role in Ukraine, providing service to the country’s government and military. Ukraine’s digital transformation minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, told The Post last week that country is using “in the area of ​​thousands” of Starlink terminals and that “new shipments [are] arriving every other day. ”

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