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Russia removes US, UK, Japan flags from rocket carrying OneWeb satellites but keeps Indian flag, puts conditions for the launch

Russian space agency ROSCOSMOS also said they will launch satellites only if UK sells its share in the project, and satellites are not used for military purposes

Perhaps for the first time in history, the impact of war on earth have been felt in space. After Russia had said that the sanctions by the USA and European nations on Russia for invasion of Ukraine can result in a crash of the International Space Station, they have now removed all the flags of countries participating in a space program from a rocket they are launching, except the flag of India.

On Wednesday, Russian space agency ROSCOSMOS chief Dimitry Rogozin posted a video showing workers at the Baikonur launch pad covering up the flags of USA, Japan and UK on the OneWeb rocket which is scheduled to be launched on Friday. However, the flag of India was left intact.

Posting the video, Rogozin said in Russian which translates to, “The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful”. In the video, the launchers at the Baikonur launch pad were seen pasting white vinyl on the flags on the Soyuz rocket, covering them completely.

The Soyuz rocket is carrying 36 satellites from various countries which will provide broadband Internet connectivity under the OneWeb project. The project aims to launch 648 satellites into orbit, and 428 of them already have been launched, all of them using the Soyuz vehicle. Bharti Airtel group and the UK government are the owners of the project.

While the Russian invasion of Ukraine is going on and several countries including the UK have imposed sanctions, the Russian space agency had said that they are going ahead with the launch. Yesterday the agency had tweeted saying that they are installing the rocket at the launchpad for the scheduled launch on 5th March.

However, the agency changed its decision today, and held the rocket launch hostage to the current situation. Now, ROSCOSMOS has refused to launch the rocket carrying the satellites due to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the UK. The agency has put a condition for the launch of the rocket that the UK govt must sell its stake in the OneWeb project, and OneWeb gives guarantee that the satellites won’t be used for military purposes.

They said that they have warned OneWeb that if it does not provide a guarantee that its satellites will not be used for military purposes by 21:30 Moscow time on March 4, then the Soyuz-2.1b rocket will be removed from the launch pad. The agency added that due to the UK’s hostile stance towards Russia, another condition for the launch of OneWeb spacecraft on March 5 is the withdrawal of the British government from the shareholders of OneWeb.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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