Russian space agency refuses to launch OneWeb satellites

Russian space agency Roscosmos stated it won’t launch British OneWeb satellites as previously planned. A Soyuz rocket carrying 36 of OneWeb’s satellites was scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 4th. Due to the global backlash against Russia’s Ukraine invasion, this launch is now uncertain as OneWeb is part-owned by the British government. NATO is on high-alert following the invasion of a sovereign, democratic European country that borders several member states, with Britain taking a robust stance against Putin’s regime. Roscosmos has demanded that “legally-binding” guarantees OneWeb’s satellites will not be used for military purposes be provided and that the British government withdraw its stake in OneWeb or the satellites will be removed from the launchpad by Friday. OneWeb currently has 428 satellites in orbit and there were a handful of launches remaining all scheduled from Baikonur to complete its planned constellation of 648 satellites for full global connectivity. Ukraine is not covered by the service but would be if the remaining satellites were launched and OneWeb rival Starlink has recently provided a batch of its stations to Ukraine to ensure that it maintains global connectivity as it defends itself.