OneWeb Russian Launch Problems

Larry Press writing at CIS471 has some details.

OneWeb has already encountered significant political problems in Russia. Russia launched OneWeb’s first test satellites and has a billion dollar contract for 20 additional launches, but Russian security officials are lobbying against OneWeb’s offering service on the grounds that it might facilitate spying. When Anatoly Zak, an expert on the Soviet space program, investigated that claim, he concluded that “With the launch of the OneWeb constellation, the Russian rocket industry stands to earn millions, but the Kremlin is terrified at the prospect of unhindered access to the Internet by its citizens.”

As far as I know, OneWeb is still planning to offer service in Russia, but they have had to make financial and technical concessions. They agreed to become a minority partner in the company that will market their service in Russia and, significantly, they agreed to drop the inter-satellite laser links (ISLLs) from their constellation and pass all Russian traffic through ground stations in Russia.

OneWeb-constellation-in-orbit-879x485

I can see why Russian and all the other nations controlling their populations would be nervous about an open internet available 24/7 to all citizens who could afford a low-cost terminal.   Think of the havoc an open internet could cause in Russia, China, and North Korea from swarms of broadband satellites overhead 24/7.  This is going to be a fun time to be an observer of global change.

 

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