OneWeb satellites blocked by Russia | Polarjournal
OneWeb began to launch its satellite constellation into orbit in February 2019. As of last month, 428 of the planned 648 satellites were in orbit. During each launch, up to 36 satellites are shot into space and released individually. (Photo: OneWeb)

A Soyuz rocket of the Russian space agency Roscosmos was supposed to bring 36 satellites of the British satellite company OneWeb into orbit on Saturday. Shortly before the planned launch, Roscosmos is now imposing conditions that are almost impossible to meet.

Since March 2019, OneWeb has been launching satellites into space at regular intervals to build a global network that can provide internet via satellite. The biggest beneficiaries of this would be the marginal regions in the Arctic. Since OneWeb does not have its own rockets, it relies on Roscosmos to put the satellites into orbit.

This dependence is becoming the undoing of Oneweb against the backdrop of sanctions against Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine. The Soyuz rocket carrying 36 OneWeb satellites was moved to a launch pad at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 2 and prepared for launch next Saturday.

At the beginning of the week, the Soyuz rocket was driven to the launch pad and is expected to make its way back to the assembly hall soon. (Photo: Roscosmos)

Roscosmos refuses to launch rocket

In the latest response to international sanctions and rising geopolitical tensions, Roscosmos has submitted a list of demands OneWeb must meet before it agrees to launch its next mission this week.

One of the things Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin reportedly demanded, according to an Interfax report, was that OneWeb provided guarantees that the satellites would not be used against Russia and would not be used for military purposes.

“Due to the hostile attitude of the UK toward Russia, another condition for the launch of OneWeb is that the British government withdraws from OneWeb,” Roscosmos said in a statement.

Rogozin said the Soyuz rocket would not be fueled and subsequently removed from the launch pad if Russia did not receive the desired assurances from OneWeb by Friday, 9:30pm (Moscow time).

To illustrate the current state of relations between Russia and the other nations with which it normally cooperates, the flags of the United States, Japan and Great Britain on the Soyuz rocket were covered over. (Photo: Roscosmos)

OneWeb forgoes further launches from Baikonur

OneWeb said Thursday that it would suspend all launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome after Moscow’s space agency demanded the guarantees that its technology would not be used for military purposes.

The British government, which owns a stake in OneWeb, said it supported the decision.

It was foreseeable that the demands would not be met. OneWeb has already started to withdraw its employees from Baikonur, according to Spacenews. What will happen to the satellites now is still unclear.

So far, OneWeb has 428 of its 648 satellites in space. Because each launch puts around 36 satellites into orbit, six or seven launches six or seven more launches are needed for the network to be completed. All of them were due to take place in 2022.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

More on the subject:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
error: Content is protected !!
Share This