Russia to launch communications satellite aboard Soyuz-2.1b rocket


Russia is expected to launch Soyuz-2.1b rocket from Vostok launch complex today, carrying UK OneWeb communications satellites

Photo: Roscosmos

Russia is expected to launch the Soyuz-2.1b rocket from the Vostok launch complex today, carrying Britain’s OneWeb communications satellites into orbit.

The launch is part of Russian space agency Roscosmos’ 2015 contracts for the launch of 21 commercial satellites for OneWeb and Arianespace.

OneWeb satellites are designed to provide high-speed internet access anywhere on Earth, but the company has yet to officially start the service due to the supply chain. problems linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in 2020 before receiving major investments from Bharti Global and the UK government.

OneWeb has already faced criticism from the Russian government, which claims satellites would be used to secretly collect intelligence. In order to maintain the 2015 contracts, Roscosmos took majority control of the Russian subsidiary OneWeb in 2018. The inclusion of Russia in the Global Internet Access project is essential due to the country’s geographic scope.

OneWeb collaboration with Russia has been fraught with pitfalls, as evidenced by the decrease in promised launches from 21 to 19. The remaining eight launches will test Russian-Western collaboration, and lingering suspicion could push Russia to seek other actors for future satellite partnerships such as India.

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