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Satellite Start-up OneWeb Files For Bankruptcy, Blames Coronavirus On Its Inability To Secure New Investment

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High-profile London-based satellite start-up, OneWeb, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US, blaming the coronavirus pandemic for its inability to secure new investment.


The start-up is also laying off most of its workers as it seeks a buyer for its business. The firm had been building a network of broadbands across the globe and it recently launched its 74th satellite in a constellation that was to total at least 648 spacecraft. The plan was to provide high-bandwidth, low-latency internet connection at any location on earth except Antarctica.


OneWeb released a statement on 28th March 2020 indicating that the company had been close to obtaining financing. However, it further said:


“The process did not progress because of the financial impact and market turbulence related to the spread of Covid-19”.

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OneWeb’s CEO Adrian Steckel said in addition:


“Today is a difficult day for us at OneWeb. So many people have dedicated so much energy, effort, and passion to this company and our mission. Our hope is that this process will allow us to carve a path forward that leads to the completion of our mission, building on the years of effort and the billions of invested capital.”


OneWeb’s initial backers included Airbus, Intelsat, Bharti Enterprises, Coca Cola, Group Salinas, Hughes Network Systems and Virgin Group. Softbank also later became a major investor in the firm.


Its competition, Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also working on a similar concept of building a satellite internet mega-constellation. SpaceX rockets are launching up to 60 satellites at a time.


If no one agrees to buy OneWeb or its assets, after bankruptcy, the responsibility for its 74 spacecraft in orbit will fall to the British government.


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