MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket intended to orbit 36 British OneWeb satellites on March 5 was removed from the launch pad of the Baikonur spaceport, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement on Friday.
"The Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with OneWeb satellites is in its horizontal position on a transporter. Roscosmos specialists will soon begin transporting it to the assembly and testing facility," the Russian space agency said on its Telegram channel.
Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin earlier gave instructions to cancel the preparations for the launch of OneWeb satellites from the Baikonur spaceport as the partners refused to provide legal guarantees of using the space vehicles for civilian purposes only and to withdraw the British government from OneWeb shareholders. Owing to this reason, the Roscosmos head issued instructions to halt the preparations for the launch of these satellites from the Baikonur, Vostochny and Kourou spaceports.
The launch of the Russian Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with OneWeb satellites was scheduled for 01:41 Moscow time on March 5 from the Baikonur cosmodrome. British OneWeb low-orbit satellites are designed to create a space-based communications system to provide high-speed Internet access in any locality worldwide. All of OneWeb satellites were orbited by Russian Soyuz carrier rockets.
CEO of Glavkosmos commercial launch operator (a Roscosmos subsidiary) Dmitry Loskutov earlier told TASS that seven launches of British OneWeb communications satellites were scheduled for 2022. As of March 4, one launch was conducted from the Guiana space center (the Kourou cosmodrome) on February 10, in which 34 OneWeb satellites were orbited.