OneWeb taken over by the British, the EU refused the file

OneWeb repris par les britanniques, l Cybersecurity

The buyer of OneWeb, the British company which has to launch and operate a constellation of satellites intended to provide a very high speed connection from space, is known. The British operator went bankrupt in late March amid the coronavirus crisis. A constellation of 74 satellites of this company is already in orbit. OneWeb has already raised $ 3.4 billion since its creation in 2012. It needs new funds to continue the deployment of the planned 648 satellites. The satellites are built by Airbus.

The structure supposed to ensure the resumption of activity brings together the British government and the Indian conglomerate Bharti, present in particular in the telecoms. The United Kingdom and the Indian company will each invest $ 500 million in Oneweb, the British government said on Friday.

For London, in a post-Brexit context, this operation is a way of repositioning themselves in the space race. The BBC mentions a 45% stake. “The operation will help make the UK a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing and exploitation of new technologies for satellites,” said a spokesman for Downing Street quoted by AFP. This offer on Oneweb follows the creation of the National Space Council in the United Kingdom, chaired by the Minister of Finance Rishi Sunak and supposed to look after the interests of the country in terms of national security.

Thierry Breton not interested

Last week, European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said that the EU must have its own constellation of satellites to set up broadband internet access. He intends to “quickly propose” this project, so that this system will be operational in the coming decade.

Thierry Breton estimates the needs in this area at 16 billion euros, and seeks to preserve this budget, hence close negotiations with certain member states. 15 billion have already been secured. This project would be a new step in the establishment of European strategic autonomy in space. Europe already operates a geolocation system, called Galileo, as well as an Earth observation and monitoring system, called Copernicus.

This declaration follows the abandonment of the OneWeb track by the EU. “We looked at the file, including in its technical aspect. In any bankruptcy, there is probably not only one reason. It quickly became clear to us that OneWeb could not meet our ambitions for strategic connectivity and autonomy, ”said Thierry Breton at Figaro.

The race for satellites does not weaken

Still, for the time being, it is the private sector led by companies from the United States that is in the driver’s seat. SpaceX intends to proceed with its 10e launch on July 8, with 60 additional satellites. Its satellite constellation, Starlink, already has around 300 satellites in orbit (read “SpaceX and Linux go into orbit before the launch of Starlink”).

Amazon, meanwhile, said the “Kuiper Project” will bring together 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit.


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