The United Kingdom successfully outbid other investors at auction with a $500 million investment on satellite broadband operator OneWeb.
According to a report from the Express, Britain's investment gives it control over OneWeb with 45% shares of the company. Bharti Global, founded by Indian telecoms billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal will control another 45% of the company.
The U.K. will be working with India's Bharti Enterprises and awaits final approval from a United States judge next week. The U.K. will also have veto power over any future OneWeb share sales and who has access to the system in an arrangement known as a golden share.
This will be Britain's attempt to compete in using satellites in space to provide high-speed internet. Elon Musk's Starlink is one of the industry's main players with over 538 broadband internet satellites on orbit.
Britain aims to control 10% of the global commercial space market by 2030 while it is particularly involved with small satellites that provide super-fast internet as well as navigational aids.
However, Financial Times said other investors are being sought, so the U.K. and Bharti Enterprises shares could fall. After Brexit, the British companies were barred from much of the European Galileo program, aiming to build a medium level satellite navigation system in space.
Britain initially thought of building its own company to rival Galileo. However, it shied away when costs are expected to reach about $6.2 million.
Britain is optimistic about gaining success with space business
Although it is currently not lucrative, Mittal sad is "convinced about the commercial viability" of OneWeb. "This is a company where $3.5 billion has already been invested... We can now build on this," he explained. The London-based company was launched in 2012 and operated on both sides of the Atlantic.
OneWeb business secretary Alok Sharma said the U.K. would gain from this investment. "Our access to a global fleet of satellites has the potential to connect millions of people worldwide to broadband... and the deal presents the opportunity to further develop our strong advanced manufacturing base right here in the U.K.," Sharma said.
The U.K.'s first spaceport, Spaceport Cornwall, is under development as it sets to launch spacecraft for the first time in 2021 or 2022.
Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit supports its construction as it prepares to take small satellites into space. However, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart foresees the Spaceport Cornwall to carry people into space.
Earlier this year, he confidently predicted the success of the spaceport as the market has shown the demand for "many small satellites launches" in the past.
"I can see a time when there is easily 50 launches in a year," Hart told the Express. "We now have the ability to make small satellites do tremendous work that used to take a satellite the size of a school bus," he said adding that will "change the whole business calculation."