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OneWeb targets Kazakhstan as satellite centre, marking Gagarin anniversary

Baikonur.jpg

Kazakhstan is building a satellite centre of excellence in association with UK/Indian operator OneWeb.

The country’s government and the satellite company announced the move yesterday, the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s journey into space from the country, when it was part of the USSR.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, executive chairman of OneWeb, said in Kazakhstan on the anniversary: “Today, we can honour [Gagarin’s] legacy with a constellation of OneWeb satellites orbiting the Earth to bring connectivity to all locations where it is needed.”

Gagarin took off on 12 April 1961 for a single orbit from the USSR’s Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan — a pad (pictured) now known as Gagarin Start.

Mittal said: “The government of Kazakhstan continues to see the importance of bridging the digital divide and enabling the digitization of its economy using innovative and modern satellite technology. OneWeb has pledged to work together to bring about these opportunities for the country.” OneWeb noiw has 146 satellites in orbit and plans a further launch of 36 later this month. 

Under the agreement, OneWeb will build a ground station for its satellite network, which will start going into commercial service later this year. OneWeb will help Kazakhstan to “digitise its economy and become a pioneer of the latest satellite communications technologies”, said the company.

Among the partners meeting Mittal and OneWeb CEO Neil Masterson were Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary — the national space centre — and Ghalam, a Kazakh-French spacecraft component supplier, as well as government organisations and the prime minister, Askar Mamin.

OneWeb also registered its local subsidiary at the Astana International Financial Centre. This unit company will facilitate the establishment of a LEC centre of excellence in the country and enable OneWeb’s service delivery across the whole of central Asia, serving businesses, schools, hospitals and civil services across Eurasia.