OneWeb, a London-based satellite launch company working for global Internet connectivity, and Elon Musk’s main competitor to the StarLink satellite network, will launch a set of 36 Internet satellites on Friday as part of its plan for a 648-satellite package. But those plans are now in jeopardy because Russia’s space agency Roscosmos seems to be blocking the effort.
The Russian-built Soyuz rocket, powered by France’s Arianespace SA, was intended to launch satellites into low – Earth orbit from the Russian – owned Pygmon Cosmotrome in Kazakhstan. OneWeb and Russia have signed a multi-year agreement to launch a satellite, with the company launching its satellites exclusively on Russia’s Soyuz rocket.
But Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos and former deputy prime minister, has refused to pursue what should have been a routine launch in response to the UK sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine invasion.
Rogozin has tweeted lavish statements in the past in response to Western sanctions – that is, after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. “After analyzing the sanctions against our aerospace industry, I recommend that the United States bring their astronauts to the International Space Station by trampoline,” Rokosin said. On Twitter following US sanctions against Russia’s space sector.
OneWeb did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
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