Arianespace and OneWeb reach settlement for suspended launches

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PARIS — Arianespace said Sept. 13 it has reached a settlement deal that could revive a launch services agreement with OneWeb that was suspended following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The terms of Arianespace’s settlement with the British satellite operator were not disclosed. 

Arianespace’s launch campaign for OneWeb abruptly halted in March following sanctions on Russia’s Soyuz rocket, which the French company had used to deploy 428 of the operator’s planned 648 broadband satellites.

Arianespace had aimed to perform six more Soyuz missions to complete the constellation under their 19-launch contract, including a launch of spare satellites for in-orbit backup capacity.

OneWeb recently disclosed it took a $229 million charge this year linked to the canceled Soyuz launches — and the 36 satellites left stranded in Kazakhstan after their ride was called off.

According to Arianespace, its settlement with OneWeb means its launch services agreement with the company “may be resumed in the future.” This likely covers options for OneWeb’s proposed second-generation constellation.

Meanwhile, OneWeb has secured contracts with SpaceX and Indian space agency ISRO to launch the remaining satellites its current generation constellation needs to provide global services. The operator’s network is currently limited to the upper parts of the northern hemisphere.

OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said Sept. 12 during World Satellite Business Week that the company has five launches contracted to take place before the end of spring. Launches are set to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

Arianespace also said it is supporting OneWeb’s upcoming launches, including satellite dispenser services for two missions to be performed by NewSpace India Limited, part of ISRO.

“Based on their unique heritage, OneWeb and Arianespace are determined to examine future opportunities together, especially on the Ariane 6 Launch Vehicle for the second generation of the constellation,” Arianespace added in its brief statement Sept. 13.

OneWeb has reserved options for 90% of the launch capacity its second generation will require, according to Masterson.

The British startup announced in June that it has a deal to use a launch vehicle being developed by Relativity Space for missions that could start as soon as 2025. 

French satellite operator Eutelsat also intends to contribute its launch reservations if its plan to merge with OneWeb passes shareholder and regulatory approvals.