Russia may have taken away OneWeb’s rocket in an attempt to prevent it from launching the rest of its Internet satellite constellation, but the company announced Monday that it had found a new partner: SpaceX.

The choice of launch provider is perhaps unusual since SpaceX is a competitor putting up a satellite constellation of its own. But SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is a reliable workhorse that will keep OneWeb on track. The company said its first launch would come later this year.

In a statement, the company did not say how many of its satellites SpaceX would launch or how many launches it would take. As of now, OneWeb has 428 satellites in orbit, or 66% of the fleet, the company said, that would provide internet capability to ground users.

“We thank SpaceX for their support, which reflects our shared vision for the boundless potential of space,” OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson said in a statement. “With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites and deliver robust, fast, secure connectivity around the globe.”

After the United Kingdom joined in sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine, Russia had said it would not fly OneWeb’s satellites unless it complied with a list of demands, including that the British government sell its substantial stake in the company and that the satellite could not be used for military purposes. When those conditions were not met, Russia pulled the rocket, leaving OneWeb to find another ride.

That didn’t take more than a couple of weeks. And Russia’s decision to refuse to launch the satellites had perhaps an unintended consequence – handing SpaceX another launch contract and another potentially substantial deal.


SpaceX has not only upended the United States launch market, but it has dealt a significant blow to Russia’s space program as well by bringing the commercial satellite launch market back to the U.S.

SpaceX also has taken over launching U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, a task that had been Russia’s for years. After the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA had no choice but to rely on Russia to ferry its astronauts to the station. And those trips didn’t come cheap. Russia charged as much as $85 million a seat.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has been sparring with the Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russia space agency, who has said it will no longer provide U.S. companies with the engines they need to power their vehicles and that they would have to use a “broomstick” to get to orbit.

Meanwhile, SpaceX continues to build out its own Starlink satellite constellation. A SpaceX official said Monday that the company currently has 250,000 subscribers and has a fleet of about 2,000 satellites on orbit. At its manufacturing facility in Redmond, Washington, it is producing about eight satellites a day, he said.

During a recent Starlink launch, SpaceX’s online broadcast commentator said: “Time to let the American broomstick fly and hear the sound of freedom.”

Starlink has also taken on a growing role in Ukraine, providing service to the country’s government and military. Ukraine’s digital transformation minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, told The Post last week that country is using “in the area of thousands” of Starlink terminals and that “new shipments [are] arriving every other day.”