Ten years after serial space entrepreneur Greg Wyler established the satellite project, it has finally lifted off from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. Girish Linganna, a defence and aviation expert, has some news to share.
In order to compete with Elon Musk’s Starlink and provide global internet access by the end of this year, OneWeb Limited successfully launched the final 36 satellites in its prototype 616-satellite “constellation.”
“A lot of hard work went into this accomplishment. Over the past year or two, we’ve had to deal with a number of geopolitical difficulties. Our team has shown incredible endurance in the face of adversity and has even pulled ahead “CEO Neil Masterson told Bloomberg in an interview before the launch (which ISSRO was contracted to assist with): (ISRO).
In order to begin providing broadband services to business and government clients in the lower 48 US states beginning in May, OneWeb has successfully launched a sufficient number of high-speed satellites into space. Masterson added that they planned to expand their reach globally by the year 2023.
Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota served as the launch site. The satellite project, started by Greg Wyler, a serial space entrepreneur, ten years ago, has finally weathered a stormy period.
The company went bankrupt in March of 2020 after the Covid-19 outbreak caused widespread economic disruption. The government of the United Kingdom and Bharti Group, owned by Indian telecom mogul Sunil Mittal, stepped in to help. After that, SoftBank Group Corp. (9,984), Hanwha Systems Co. (272,210), and Hughes Satellite Systems Corp. all invested in the business.
French satellite operator Eutelsat SA, a major shareholder in OneWeb, agreed to a merger in July, pending regulatory approvals and a vote by OneWeb shareholders. The European Union is leading a multibillion-euro satellite project called IRIS, and this team is competing to be a part of it.
Masterson claims that with $900 million in guaranteed earnings, OneWeb will be profitable by 2025. The London company has also begun making plans for a new, more sophisticated series of several hundred supplemental satellites, which may cost as much as $4 billion and go live by 2028.
RACE TO THE MOON
With this launch, a new era in the race to surround the world with thousands of low-altitude satellites for broadband purposes has begun, and existing players in the pitch are beginning to reach deals with one another.
OneWeb is the second-largest low-Earth-orbit (LEO) system, behind only Starlink. More than 3,000 satellites make up Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s vast network. In addition, AMZN has Project Kuiper in the works, which is a large system of its own.
Masterson dismissed concerns about competition from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, noting that SpaceX serves consumers while OneWeb serves businesses and governments. In addition, Masterson’s company is a customer of SpaceX, having used Musk’s rockets to launch their satellites after their initial launch with France’s Arianespace SA was postponed a year prior due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.