OneWeb to launch satellites from India to rescue plans for worldwide broadband

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Andrey Armyagov)

OneWeb, the satellite firm part-owned by the UK government and Bharti Airtel, will launch its future satellites from India to ensure plans for a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation remain on track.

The company had been launching is satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan until Roscomos demanded guarantees that the technology would not be used for military purposes against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

OneWeb said it would cease all launches for the facility and look for other ways to expand its constellation, which currently stands at 428 satellites. In total, it plans to launch 650 satellites in order to achieve global coverage.

OneWeb India

OneWeb reached temporary deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s to continue its programme, before penning this latest agreement with New Space India.

“This is yet another historic day for collaboration in space, thanks to the shared ambition and vision of New Space India and OneWeb,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb Executive Chairman.

“This most recent agreement on launch plans adds considerable momentum to the development of OneWeb’s network, as we work together across the space industry toward our common goal of connecting communities globally.”

OneWeb 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.

The company plans to bring broadband to some of the most remote parts of the world, transforming consumer services, in-flight Wi-Fi, and industrial applications.

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.