Satellite internet company OneWeb has turned to SpaceX to launch its satellites after a falling out with Russia’s Roscosmos. The launch will happen sometime this year, although neither company revealed how many satellites will be on board or which of SpaceX’s rockets will be used.
Earlier this month, the Russian space agency suspended a scheduled launch of OneWeb’s satellites in Kazakhstan in response to the UK government’s sanctions against Russia amidst the ongoing invasion in Ukraine. In order for the launch to go forward, Roscosmos made a list of demands. One of which is that the British government divest its stake in the company, to which it refused and proceeded to suspend all launches with the agency.
OneWeb is planning a constellation made up of 648 satellites, of which 228 have already been launched using Russia’s Soyuz rockets. It’s not clear just how many of the remaining satellites will be launched by SpaceX, which is also building out its own Starlink satellite-based internet service.
While it seems weird that SpaceX might be helping out one of its main competitors, OneWeb’s chief of government, regulatory, and engagement Chris McLaughlin told The Verge that the two companies actually sell different products. He argues that SpaceX is a broad-based consumer internet supplier, while OneWeb caters more to the needs of governments.