British satellite communications provider OneWeb signed a new deal with SpaceX allowing the company to resume satellite launches.
The deal was announced on March 21, 2022. According to a company press release, OneWeb’s first launch with a SpaceX rocket will take place later in 2022.
Previously, OneWeb had launched its satellites on Soyuz rockets. However, on March 4, 2022, in the wake of sanctions imposed on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced that it would be canceling its agreement with OneWeb.
Out of a proposed 648 satellites, 428 are currently in orbit, according to OneWeb. The company has expected to complete its constellation and begin providing services to customers by the end of 2022.
“We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space. 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,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson was quoted as saying in the press release.
The deal with SpaceX is unusual considering that OneWeb is the main competitor of Starlink, SpaceX’s own satellite communication network, which commenced limited service in 2020 and is slated for numerous future upgrades.