OneWeb launches 34 more satellites amid bankruptcy concerns

Web satellites attached to the payload dispenser – credit OneWeb

Web satellites attached to the payload dispenser – credit OneWeb

As noted in its statement to TechCrunch, OneWeb has a launch scheduled for Saturday, which will take 34 of its satellites to space aboard a Soyuz rocket taking off from Kazakhstan.

OneWeb aims to provide high-bandwidth communication services using low Earth orbit satellites, with a focus on rural and other areas that are hard-to-reach for terrestrial networks.

The first six OneWeb satellites were launched from French Guiana in February 2019, and another batch of 34 satellites was launched last month from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Reporting from online technology news site TechCrunch also reveals that OneWeb has laid off approximately 10 percent of its workforce last week, and that the company expects delays in its satellite manufacturing and launch schedules.

Unlike SpaceX, OneWeb intends to sell its connectivity services to governments and corporate customers that provide internet service to airplanes, ships and boats.

The OneWeb launch will continue on Saturday with more launches planned later in the year; however, like others, we are affected by the global economic and health crisis and we need to dynamically adjust our workforce.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb, said: "We are very proud of the progress we have made so far in 2020 and I would like to show the utmost gratitude for the time, effort, and expertise of the OneWeb company, our partners and our people as we come together and support one another".

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Blaine Curcio, a Hong Kong-based satellite business analyst and founder of Orbital Gateway Consulting, said, "the recent market turmoil, spike in short-term financing costs (especially for leveraged companies), and general "risk-off" sentiment that has overtaken the world in light of the Coronavirus pandemic has created a flawless storm through which all companies will need to navigate".

He added that the crisis has demonstrated "the imperative need for connectivity everywhere", and has exposed urgent shortcomings in many organizations' connectivity capabilities.

This follows a Bloomberg report Thursday that OneWeb, which has an investment of almost $ 3 billion from SoftBank In his last two rounds, he's considered filing for bankruptcy protection as a possible way to deal with a crisis in his available cash. "Our satellite network is poised to fill in many of these critical gaps in the global communications infrastructure", he said.

The company is reportedly considering seeking court protection even as it continues to review possible out-of-court alternatives, Bloomberg reported its sources as saying.

OneWeb has raised about US$3.3 billion in debt and equity financing from investors that include Softbank, Airbus, and Qualcomm Incorporated.

OneWeb have so far declined to comment on the bankruptcy claims, and have eschewed negativity by focusing on the successful launch.

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