LONDON – Telecoms company OneWeb, part-owned by the British government, has halted the use of Russian Soyuz rockets to launch broadband satellites because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday, the company’s board voted to suspend 36 broadband satellite launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome base in Kazakhstan, planned in cooperation with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency. All missions were booked on Russian Soyuz rockets and were scheduled to launch in the coming months, with an upcoming departure on March 5th.
In the last days of Roscosmos had asked for assurances from OneWeb that the company’s satellites would not be used for military purposes and called on the British government, which owns a £400m stake in the company, to divest itself. Roscosmos said if those demands were not met, the space agency would not proceed with launches.
Space is an area of intense international cooperation, and the move will leave Moscow isolated in a sector that has historically been one of the greatest sources of Russian national pride. According to a British official, OneWeb is now working with French rocket maker Arianespace on new rockets for future launches.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, anticipated that Roscosmos’ demands would not be met, tweet On Wednesday there will be “no negotiations” at OneWeb. “The UK government is not selling its stake,” he wrote. “We are in contact with other shareholders to discuss next steps.”
On Thursday, Kwarteng welcomed OneWeb’s vote. “In light of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, we are considering our participation in any further projects involving Russian cooperation,” he said.
According to the Russian news agency TASS, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said that the OneWeb contract had been paid in full and the funds would not be returned. Darren Jones, Chair of the House of Commons Business Affairs Committee, has done so written to the UK government, asking whether OneWeb has already made payments to the Russian space agency for the planned launches and whether they would be subject to sanctions legislation.
https://www.politico.eu/article/satellite-firm-oneweb-suspends-missions-on-russian-rockets/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Satellite company OneWeb suspends missions with Russian missiles – POLITICO