OneWeb clears bankruptcy, next satellite launch December 17

On November 20, 2020, OneWeb officially announced its emergency from U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, putting it into join ownership with the UK Government and Bharti Global.  OneWeb expects to resume launch operations on December 17, adding 36 satellites to the current constellation of 74 already in orbit.

As part of the changes being made, Neil Masterson has been appointed CEO of OneWeb while former CEO Adrian Steckel has been appointed an advisor to the board of directors.  Masterson was previously formerly Co-Chief Operating Officer at Thomson Reuters with a 20-year career at the global provider of news, information, and software.

“I am looking forward to helping the OneWeb team deliver and commercialize their vision to provide internet access across the globe,” said Masterson. “OneWeb has a strong social purpose to improve the world’s access to information, which I share. It has great talent, a compelling commercial opportunity, and is supported by committed and knowledgeable owners and investors.

OneWeb will continued to be headquartered in the UK, viewed as an essential asset to the national’s growing portfolio of commercial space efforts, including small satellites, services, and potentially launch in the future.

“This strategic investment demonstrates Government’s commitment to the UK’s space sector in the long-term and our ambition to put Britain at the cutting edge of the latest advances in space technology,” said UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Alok Sharma. “Access to our own global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect people worldwide, providing fast UK-backed broadband from the Shetlands to the Sahara and from Pole to Pole. This deal gives us the chance to build on our strong advanced manufacturing and services base in the UK, creating jobs and technical expertise.”

The next satellite launch on December 17 will take place from Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia, OneWeb’s first from that site. All the satellites have been shipped from Florida to Vostochny and are now undergoing preparation for launch. Launches are expected to continue regularly through 2022, with OneWeb expecting to begin commercial connectivity services to the UK and the Arctic region in late 2021 and expand to delivering global services in 2022.

Currently, the UK government and Bharti Global hold 42% stakes each in OneWeb, with SoftBank holding on to 12%.  OneWeb needs to raise an additional $1.25 billion, reports the Financial Times, in order to complete the constellation of 650 satellites and start commercial operations.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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