At least we still have Galileo.
Oh, hang on ....
The board of satellite constellation provider OneWeb this morning said it had voted to suspend all launches from Baikonur, a day after Russia's space agency said this weekend's lift-off was in doubt. Roscosmos yesterday demanded the "withdrawal of the British government from the shareholders of OneWeb" after seeking a …
Hopefully this might show the beancounters the importance of having your own launch capabilities. The West is heading in the right direction but it's all about a decade too late. If there had been less mucking about and more money, OneWeb could really have said "Screw you" knowing there was plenty of alternatives.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but it's not like there hasn't been a lot of shouting about this very situation for years...
I wonder how long it would take to adapt OneWeb to launching on Falcon 9 or alternatives.
It probably isn't as simple as just sticking the satellites into the space on top of the rocket. There's the size of the satellites to take into account, and how they are deployed from the rocket. The may be lucky and it is possible in a short time period.
I guess the 36 satellites ready to launch need to be written off, they aren't coming back, and the sanctions aren't stopping soon.
Lets not pretend that the UK government investing in Oneweb has anything to do with the desire to provide satellite internet in the first place, it was always a military usage they were interested in. What remains to be seen is can Oneweb's balance sheet cope with writing off those satellites that were due to go up on the Russian rockets without needing more government cash?
OneWeb was the UKs response to shooting itself in the foot over the Galileo fuckup with Brexit.
The fact it's gone sour so quickly - albeit not as many might have predicted - just underscores what a shit idea Brexit continues to be.
It was interesting that regardless of what the "sovereign" UK decided, RT and Sputnik went dark because they are in the EUs jurisdiction.
in one word: yes. Just change the figures on the balance sheet. Given how easy it was to lose 4 - 30bn (gbp, not roubles), to covid-related scam, I don't believe a few m here or that matters :(
ps. yes, I'm a Putin bot and I demand my 5 roubles now!
If you've already paid for a service (rockets to deliver your satellites) and then the provider suddenly adds extra conditions to the contract (can't be used for military use; one of two major shareholders has to sell their stake), you'd have grounds for expecting your money refunded, surely? I'm not saying you'd expect a refund any time soon, but I'd be filing papers with whatever international court of arbitration is applicable.
"I'm not saying you'd expect a refund any time soon, but I'd be filing papers with whatever international court of arbitration is applicable."
If I was OneWeb, I'd write off the satellites, perhaps upload a virus to them, (if they were suddenly switched on, thereby making them unusable)...and then accept as "payment" the monies from the sale of one (or more) oligarchs recently seized "assets"...
There's some nice shiny boats/yachts that have been seized by France already...and maybe OneWeb fancies branching out into a London football club (unless Abramovich can sell it quickly...though the b*$t*rd Tory govt is taking it's time to increase sanctions against some of the sponsors of it's political party...giving them a chance to move their funds :-( )
They are likely to be at the back of a long queue.
There are a lot of leased Airbuses in Russia that the Irish companies aren't getting back.
There are also going to be a lot of knock off spare parts on the open market as a lot of Russian Del-Boys strip everything movable from every bit of kit.
The UK prevented the internationally recognised government of Venezuela from withdrawing their gold stashed in the Bank of England. When can Venezuela expect their gold to be refunded + interest + damages. Iran, I believe is still waiting for the return of the money paid to the UK for tanks that were not delivered. UK & the US are the biggest international bank robbers.
Ooh, I see Putin's useful idiots have awoken from their torpor and found this site. Good job! Now please, do educate us how the
invasionspecial military operation in Ukraine is actually all the fault of Brexit, Trump and the West in general? Those cluster bombs raining down on schools and residential areas, are those because of Margaret Thatcher? Nicholas Maduro's brutal repression in Venezuela, is that also due to Boris Johnson? "Internationally-recognised government", you must be using the new definition of "international" that limits world consensus to only Cuba, China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, right? I forget.
Or alternatively, just fuck off.
Those cluster bombs raining down on schools and residential areas, are those because of Margaret Thatcher?
Well if we could have sold cluster bombs to the Russians I'm pretty certain we would have. I mean, we sell lots of dodgy stuff to the Saudis, for a start. We have no right to be morally right. Historically Iran, China, India and many other places would be justified in berating us for our past actions.
Nobody, especially Britain, comes out of this well.
I am no apologist for Russia, but their beef is the fear of losing full access to the Black Sea, a warm water port. That is why Crimea is so important. Tim Marshal's Prisoners of Geography may open your eyes to geopolitics.
Still, if you want to think Britain and the West is great, everybody else is evil, have it your way.
And just to be clear -- this war is disgraceful and Putin is a war criminal. The bombing of Dresden by 'Bomber Harris' was a disgrace, and Harris was a war criminal. But funnily enough, we think he's great. Go figure.
OneWeb hired Boeing to make the satellites. Part of the contract was that OneWeb had to buy launches from Boeing. Pre Starlink, the satellite costs might have been reasonable but post Starlink the satellites are overpriced or under featured. That is half of what drove OneWeb bankrupt. The other half is Boeing ignored the cheapest launch provider (SpaceX) and negotiated a really good bulk price from Roscosmos. Boeing then charged OneWeb Roscosmos's full retail price for each launch.
Roscosmos spent lots of money half building rockets for the OneWeb contract then OneWeb went bankrupt leaving Roscosmos with lots of value stranded in rockets it could not sell. Luckily the UK government came to their rescue. If things went the same way as before, Roscosmos has taken Boeing's deposit and fees for previous launches but will not be getting money for future launches. In theory, Boeing is owed money or launches but has not way to collect.
Perhaps Boeing owes OneWeb money or launches but judging by OneWeb's negotiating skills I would not bet on it. If the UK government renegotiated the deal then I am certain UK tax payers now owe Boeing money.
If you have a good product you sell it to people. If you have a bad product you sell it to businesses. If your product is completely FUBAR you get a government to mandate its use. OneWeb was not competitive with SpaceX so there is no chance of retail sales. They may still get somewhere with a tiny numer of commercial customers if there are any who can make good use of the partial constellation. At this time OneWeb really needs a government mandate.
Boeing could offer launch on ULA's Vulcan. Boeing owns 50% of ULA and would like to close that deal but Vulcan will use Blue Origin's BE-4 engine - if Blue ever delivers (Try an image search for "Where are my engines Jeff?"). If OneWeb cannot or will not buy launches from SpaceX the next options are China and India - but only if they can get that past Boeing. India's GSLV2 is a bit small but Bharti Global owns half of OneWeb so it may go that way. Blue Origin still talks about launching this year but I am not sure how a litigation company can put anything in orbit especially when New Glenn is supposed to use BE-4 engines.
"OneWeb was not competitive with SpaceX so there is no chance of retail sales."
This may or may not be a good example, but as we have seen with both COVID and current geopolitical issues, have your own product or local source of product rather than outsourced to cheapest supplier is suddenly a "Good Thing"tm again.
A better example might be local government procurement in the UK. They are legally obliged to go with the cheapest supplier, hence a number of them now scrambling to find way to disentangle themselves fro Gazprom gas supply contracts.
 Yes, it's possible to avoid cheap shit by making sure the requirements of the contract can exclude those suppliers, but that in itself can be problematical.
It seems very probable that the Russians have or now will reverse engineer the security keys contained within the satellites. One can only hope that all satellites already up and running will have their current keys revoked and replaced by new ones. I am not firm enough on public / private key cryptography, but for me it feels that handing the Russians this data on a platter is asking for an attack later down the line.
As I understand it (but I am not in the industry) they get launched with a stripped down firmware that handles the 'separation' and 'getting into position' roles. Once they're in place they get a new firmware uploaded which does the operational stuff.
So hopefully the keys aren't in the factory firmware anyway.
OK, they'll get an insight into the capabilities but I doubt there's anything remarkable in that. Unless they've embedded a KW laser, which could be quite handy just as soon as Putin shows his face somewhere within range...
Russia has also announced that it will not be supplying any more engines (which get used for military flights, among other things) to the US. Support for those they already have has also been withdrawn.
Work was already under way to replace them (someone pointed out that it probably wasn't a good idea to have the defence of your country dependent on a hostile nation - duh! Really?), but the program is running late...
Updated to add:
However, Atlas was already end-of-lifed and production ended.
The CEO of ULA has tweeted that they have all the RD-180 engines they need for the remaining 25 or so missions in a US warehouse.
How long would it take the US to reverse engineer them?
The US already has the manufacturing info from Russia, as manufacturing the engines in the US was a requirement by Congress... who then failed to provide any of the promised funding for said manufacturing.
> Work was already under way to replace them (someone pointed out that it probably wasn't a good idea to have the defence of your country dependent on a hostile nation - duh! Really?), but the program is running late...
Well, one would hope that the Yanks have enough nous to reverse engineer an evolution of a 1960's design rocket engine. And if they don't they can always buy them from North Korea. ;-)
One wonders what is happening aboard the ISS with the current Expedition 66 crew...2 from Roscosmos, 4 from NASA and 1 from ESA.
Maybe the Russian cosmonauts will stay in their own section and not stray into the "NASA exclusion zone" ;-)
Additional crew are due to arrive on 18th March 2022, with 3 extra crew from Roscosmos joining, taking the number onboard to 10....(though at least 2 crew will subsequently return to Earth on 30th March).
They could organise a nice game of 5-a-side football with 5 from NASA/ESA and 5 from Roscosmos. !
"One wonders what is happening aboard the ISS with the current Expedition 66 crew...2"
There's a Peter Hyams documentary about a very similar incidence that happened 12 years ago. The documentary is named for the year.
Mine's the coat with the heavy duty shades. We're going to need them.
You forgot the joke icon!
Seriously, the UK's progress towards any capability has been piss-poor with the 5+ sites fighting for meagre UK funds. SaxaVord has been generally the most successful in publicity and promotion, though Cornwall is doing well on that front. However, the whole business situation and sources of funding up there is "murky" shall we say:
The west has basically become fat and soft. We've stopped thinking in terms of strategic industry. We've closed steel plants, instead outsourcing a lot of it to other countries. We've outsourced our launch capabilities to a country that has never been considered a "friend"...
Maybe this whole debacle will wake our governments up and make them realise that every decision should not be made purely on cost basis alone. Keeping local strategic capabilities are hugely important.
Just like we should have manufacturing capabilities in the US/EU for chips, storage etc... We're entirely too reliant on another country we don't consider a "friend" - China.
I think the strategy was to bring those countries into the "global fold", especially Russia after the collapse of the USSR. I'd say it was worth a try, but maybe went too far. Especially in the case of China and their extremely restrictive conditions for operating within China. That was a huge red flag (pun intended) but money blinded many to the obvious future problems.