What future lays ahead for Russia and OneWeb launch arrangement?

2nd Mar 2022
What future lays ahead for Russia and OneWeb launch arrangement?

The Soyuz Flight VS27 started on 10th February at the Guiana Space Center, and the successful Russian rocket launch helped take the OneWeb satellite fleet to 428. The launch that took 34 more satellites to orbit marks the 340th overall event for Arianespace – Ariane, Soyuz, and Vega.

Increased Rocket Launch Activity for Arianespace in 2022

This first mission of 2022 marks the beginning of what looks like a busy year for Arianespace. Across the year, several other launches will take place to deploy OneWeb’s satellite network. As highlighted by Stephane Israel, CEO of Arianespace, the future launches will help enable the constellation’s global services. He also added that Arianespace is proud to contribute to this project that will improve connectivity on earth.

What will the One Web Satellite Constellation Deliver?

OneWeb’s constellation aims to deliver low-latency, high-speed connections to a wide range of customers in various sectors. Unlike SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, OneWeb focuses on using satellites to deliver its services to sectors such as aviation, backhaul services, maritime, and even governmental uses.

Furthermore, One Web plans to bring connectivity to places where the use of fibre is simply impossible. By doing so, the company wants to put an end to the digital divide still present in numerous areas. The services include 5G, 3G, LTE, and Wi-Fi coverage for high-speed access by land, sea, or air.

OneWeb Satellites is the prime contractor, and a joint venture of OneWeb and Airbus Defence and Space. Produced by Airbus Defence and Space in Florida, the satellites are orbited by Arianespace as part of a broader agreement. Using its family of three launchers – Ariane, Soyuz, and Vega – from rocket launch locations in French Guiana or from the Baikonur and Vostochny cosmodromes in Russia, the company orbited over 1,100 satellites.

However, with the current situation in Ukraine where Russian troops have been deployed in what has been termed as an act of aggression – an act that has attracted growing opposition from Europe and indeed the rest of the world – it is likely that the OneWeb/Russia arrangement is in tatters now.

OneWeb had plans for ground stations across Russian territory as well as launch arrangements with the country. It would be logical to expect those plans to be revised.

In addition to this, the OneWeb satellites contain Russian technology (providing propulsion from our understanding), so future satellites may need to have their technology revised.

Let’s keep in mind that one of OneWeb’s main shareholders is the British government. So, they will need to make clear their position.

So, one thing is very clear… the British Government and other OneWeb shareholders, will need to take a serious look at the company’s future. Whatever they decide to do, the main loser here will be Russia.

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