UK Government’s strategic struggle with OneWeb

Recent Financial Times article talks about the importance low earth orbit (LEO) communication companies. OneWeb is one of the three main companies in the space. High-speed LEO communication is a point of strategic advantage that the UK wants to have. What is interesting here is that last class we discussed how sometimes a national security perspective in space-systems is at odds sometimes with the commercial side of things.

This is the exact crossroads that the concerned authorities in the UK are at. Just a couple years ago, they made a $500 million investment into OneWeb which was about to go bankrupt. This was a more venture capital type raise where other investors from around the globe took part in the round of investment. Now the question is, should the UK government take the strategic advantage route and hinder commercial success of their huge investment or should they aim to maximize the ROI on their half a billion dollars. Maybe there is a way to do both? Reserve the highest quality communication capabilities for strategic advantage and commercialize the rest.