February 26, 2021

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Allegedly Cash-Strapped OneWeb Launches 34 New Satellites

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Original Post from InfoSecurity Magazine

Allegedly Cash-Strapped OneWeb Launches 34 New Satellites

A British communications company on a mission to “bring connectivity to everyone everywhere” successfully launched 34 new American-made satellites into space on March 21.

OneWeb‘s low-earth-orbit satellites were carried into space aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle that took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Saturday’s launch⁠—the third to be successfully completed by the company⁠—brought the total number of active satellites being operated by OneWeb up to 74.

This latest space mission is part of OneWeb’s plan to put 648 satellites into space to deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity globally by 2021. The company launched its first batch of satellites in 2019 and its second batch just weeks ago, on February 7.  

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said in February that the company was on track to deliver commercial services in the Arctic later this year. However, Bloomberg reported last week that OneWeb is encountering major financial difficulties and is considering filing for bankruptcy. 

Bloomberg said that OneWeb, which has the backing of SoftBank Group Corp., is struggling to remain afloat due to high costs, stiff competition, uncertain regulation, and the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

OneWeb is headquartered in London but builds its satellites at a high-volume production factory in Florida, which as of Sunday evening had 1,007 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. 

Word of OneWeb’s possible bankruptcy filing came to Bloomberg from “people with knowledge of the [bankruptcy] preparations” who wished to remain anonymous.

Speaking after the satellite launch on Saturday, OneWeb’s Steckel made no mention of any possible financial difficulties the company may be experiencing. Instead, the CEO emphasized the need for global connectivity amid the current health crisis, which has seen people around the world enter a state of self-isolation.

“In these unprecedented times following the global outbreak of COVID-19, people around the world find themselves trying to continue their lives and work online. We see the need for OneWeb, greater now more than ever before,” said Steckel.

“High-quality connectivity is the lifeline to enabling people to work, continue their education, stay up to date on important healthcare information and stay meaningfully connected to one another. The crisis has demonstrated the imperative need for connectivity everywhere and has exposed urgent shortcomings in many organizations’ connectivity capabilities.”

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