Russia President Vladimir Putin's decision to send its army to invade the neighboring country of Ukraine has affected business operations in Russia. Russia's unprovoked war and aggression against Ukrainian civilians has caused global tensions to rise. Powerful nations across the world are imposing strong sanctions against Russia in hopes of putting pressure against oligarchs to pressure Putin to stop the war. The sanctions are affecting the country's economy and business ties with countries worldwide. Many companies stopped providing services in Russia and the government operated Roscosmos Space Agency is losing customers as a result.
Roscosmos set some strict conditions for foreign companies with previously-signed contracts to launch aboard the Soyuz rocket from Russian soil. Roscosmos refused to launch OneWeb's broadband satellites after the British company did not agree with Russia's demands. The conditions Russia imposed are: that OneWeb internet service cannot be used for military purposes and that the British government divests its shareholder stake in the company. Roscosmos threatened to cancel all contracts with OneWeb if the conditions were not accepted. The United Kingdom refused its conditions and OneWeb ended all ties with Russia then selected U.S. company SpaceX to launch its broadband satellites. After this, Russia erased/painted over the American, Britain, and Japan flags out of the Soyuz rocket's exterior.
OneWeb is a competitor to SpaceX's Starlink broadband constellation. It aims to build a constellation of 648 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide Internet coverage to customers globally, similar to Starlink which consist of 12,000 satellites to also provide Internet across the world. As of today, SpaceX operates around 2,200 satellites in orbit launched by Falcon 9 since 2019. And OneWeb operates 428 of its satellites that were all launched on Russia’s Soyuz rocket. OneWeb's satellites will now launch atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. “We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space,” said OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson, “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. Demand for OneWeb’s broadband connectivity services has continued to grow across telecommunications providers, aviation and maritime markets, and governments worldwide. OneWeb has activated service with its network at the 50th parallel and above, and early partners are initiating service,” they stated in a press release on March 21.
Featured Image Source: Roscosmos Soyuz & SpaceX Falcon 9