Broadband satellite operator OneWeb announced on January 15 that it had secured an additional $400 million in funding from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems.
After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020, OneWeb re-emerged late last year under the ownership of the British government and Indian telecom firm Bharti Global. The pair acquired the company for $1 billion.
The new round of funding is the first under its new ownership with SoftBank, which was the biggest shareholder in OneWeb before Chapter 11, contributing $350 million, and satellite internet service Hughes Network Systems contributing the remaining $50 million.
Since re-emerging from bankruptcy in November, OneWeb has launched a single mission deploying 36 satellites aboard a Soyuz 2.1b in December. The launch brought the OneWeb constellation to 110 satellites in total.
As of a January 2021 FCC filing, OneWeb hopes to launch a total of 6,372 satellites, a significant reduction from the 48,000 proposed prior to filing for Chapter 11. However, even at its reduced size, the current constellation could require more than 180 launches to fully deploy. Additionally, OneWeb will likely have to launch satellites aboard a wide range of launch vehicles if the constellation is to be completed within the decade.
According to OneWeb, the additional funding positions the company to fully fund its first-generation constellation of 648 satellites by the end of 2022. It is currently unclear what kind of service OneWeb could offer customers with this initial fleet. The SpaceX Starlink constellation, for comparison, currently totals almost 1,000 satellites and is capable of offering broadband internet to parts of North America and Canada.
The next OneWeb mission is currently slated for February 25. The mission will be launched from Vostochny Cosmodrome aboard a Soyuz 2.1b carrying 36 satellites.