OneWeb has added an additional 34 satellites to its constellation despite looming financial worries that could bankrupt the company.
The latest batch of OneWeb satellites was launched aboard a Soyuz-2.1b from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 17:06 UTC on March 21. Followingly a successful liftoff, the rocket’s Fregat upper stage performed two planned burns over an hour and deployed all 34 satellites into their intended orbits.
Despite nearly doubling the size of the OneWeb constellation with Saturday’s launch, the company is considering filing for bankruptcy.
According to a Bloomberg report, OneWeb is exploring both filing for bankruptcy and other out-of-court alternatives in an attempt to address dwindling cash reserves. The company has faced high costs in both production and launch services, and stiff competition from operators like SpaceX who are able to launch satellites aboard their own rockets.
To date, OneWeb has raised more than $3.4 billion in funding. Investors include Softbank, Airbus, Qualcomm and the government of Rwanda, which contributed $27 million to a $1.25 billion round of funding early last year.
Although this pool of funding is significant, OneWeb has already blown through much of it. The company requires an estimated 1.6 billion more in funding if it has any chance of completing its constellation of communications satellites.
If the company can complete the constellation, it will consist of no fewer than 650 satellites that will provide global high-speed internet.