Arlington, V.A-based OneWeb wants to bring the internet to space with a goal of helping connect underserved populations.
Just weeks after its first successful satellite launch, the company announced today that it has landed $1.25 billion in venture capital. The round was led by SoftBank Group Corp., Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm Technologies, and the Government of Rwanda. Previous investors include Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Coca-Cola.
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This new round brings OneWeb’s total funding to $3.4 billion, the company said. OneWeb has created operation centers in Virginia and London and has ground stations in Italy, Norway and Canada. It also has offices in Virginia, London, Florida, and California.
The capital infusion will help the company begin its “largest satellite launch campaign in history.”
For perspective on how this works – imagine a constellation of hundreds of satellites, the size of washing machines, in orbit to promote coverage.
Around October, OneWeb will start launching 30 satellites to space a month, with the goal of creating a constellation of 650 satellites. According to Virgin.com, that number could increase to 2,000 satellites.
These leaps are all part of the startup’s overall goal to bridge the digital divide.
Ricardo Salinas, founder and chairman of Grupo Salinas, said he’s spent over 20 years trying to bring connectivity to people in Mexico and Latin America. Further, he has “seen firsthand the power of connectivity to change and improve lives,” and believes OneWeb will tap into hard-to-reach places, according to the press release.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk of SpaceX fame has taken to Twitter to give customers a peek at the company’s recent feats. Yesterday, the Tesla CEO tweeted out a video showing off the most recent SpaceX starship technology: heatshield hex tiles.
What does this mean? Only that the race for space continues to be onwards and upwards and by onwards and upwards we mean expensive and tech-heavy (naturally). The recent OneWeb round is just another step on the voyage.
Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias