OneWeb incurs $230m write down after cancelled Russian launches

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Andrey Armyagov)

UK-based satellite firm OneWeb has confirmed a $229 million write-down of assets following the cancellation of planned launches from a Russian facility earlier this year.

The company, which is part-owned by the UK government, is building a constellation of 650 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to deliver connectivity to some of the most remote parts of the world, transforming consumer services, in-flight Wi-Fi, and industrial applications.

It had been launching satellites from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan but halted operations there earlier this year following the invasion of Ukraine.

OneWeb satellites

Russian space agency Roscomos had demanded guarantees that the technology would not be used for military purposes against the country following its invasion of Ukraine.

OneWeb has since reached agreements with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and with New Space India to continue launches as it pushes towards its target, but Russia has seized equipment left at Baikonur, leading to the write-down.

The company faced bankruptcy in 2020 before it was rescued through a takeover by Indian telco Bharti Airtel and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. 

The government now owns a third of the company after investing £400 million. Since then, it has received additional investment from South Korean firm Hanwha, bringing its funding total to $2.7 billion since its inception.

Earlier this year OneWeb agreed to merge with Eutelsat, hoping the combination of their financial and technological resources would allow it to create hybrid LEO/ Geostationary Orbit (GEO) services that can better compete with the likes of SpaceX and Amazon’s Project Kuiper.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.