UK government will invest $500 million and take a significant equity share in space exploration firm OneWeb, it announced Friday. OneWeb, which has its headquarters in the UK, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US in March, after it was unable to secure financing. Bharti Global also will invest $500 million as part of the deal.
OneWeb is one of the several companies working on an Internet-from-space project, using a combination of low-altitude satellites to beam internet connectivity to ground terminals on Earth’s surface. It was slated to launch a constellation of 650 spacecraft, and its plans included providing internet coverage for the Arctic. So far, it has launched 74 satellites for the project.
Friday’s deal with the UK, which gives the country a 20 percent stake, will allow OneWeb to complete construction of the satellite constellation.
The government said in a statement: “making the UK a world leader in science, research and development.” UK Secretary of State for Business Alok Sharma said: “the deal presents the opportunity to further develop our strong advanced manufacturing base right here in the UK.”
OneWeb said in a statement Friday that the company was seeking to resume operations as soon as possible.
The deal is subject to US regulatory approval and is expected to close before the end of the year.