Arianespace’s multi-million euros contract from OneWeb (currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reconstruction) has been heavily revised.
OneWeb wants 3 less rocket launches. Each will carry 34 to 36 OneWeb satellites and the full OneWeb constellation should be in orbit by the end of 2022.
The new launch manifest will see Arianespace carry out 16 launches on its Europeanized Soyuz rockets. This means that two Soyuz launches have been cancelled and also that OneWeb is no longer the debut customer on the new Ariane 6 rocket.
Arianespace’s Soyuz vehicle has already successfully placed 3 batches of OneWeb satellites into orbit; however, the bankruptcy brought all plans to a halt. The original scheme expected one Soyuz rocket launch to happen every month throughout 2021 and building up to a fleet of some 650 satellites.
Just 74 craft are currently in orbit and Arianespace has said the launch manifest will kick back in during December of this year, with 36 satellites on board.
The current plan will see two Soyuz launches managed at Arianespace’s usual Kourou, French Guiana launch site. Other Soyuz launches will happen from either Baikonur or Russia’s new launch facility at Vostochny in Russia’s Far East.
Prior the bankruptcy, OneWeb had contracts in place with Virgin Orbit but they have been cancelled and are the subject of a legal action between Virgin and OneWeb.
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy reconstruction allows the affected business to accept or reject some of the contracts and leases that were in place prior to the bankruptcy.
OneWeb has delivered to its bankruptcy court a long list of contracts, some it will be happy to respect or amend but others it wants to be rejected. The court will decide and those affected by a ‘rejection’ have until September 28th to lodge their protests. The bankruptcy court will hear arguments on October 2nd.
The list of the proposed rejected contracts is long, and includes Airbus Defence & Space, EchoStar as well as Hughes Network Systems, a Will-i-Am business (I.am.equity), Intelsat, Kymeta Corp, Qualcomm, Coca-Cola, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Orbit, Deloitte, KPMG, Qualcomm and many others, including SoftBank.
Some OneWeb staffers and former employees are also affected. Greg Wyler via his Nevada-based 1110 Ventures LLC company and who founded the company, as well as Brian Holz, who worked for a time at OneWeb and who will lose a share purchase agreement signed in 2017.
There are also some major legal actions against OneWeb including claims by Intelsat and Virgin Orbit. The bankruptcy court’s judge will decide what happens to these later this year.
News stories authored by journalist Chris Forrester,
who posts for the Advanced Television infosite and is also a
Senior Contributor for Satnews Publishers.