Satellite communications provider OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US, as it failed to secure investment required to launch commercially due to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

OneWeb said in a statement it had been engaged in advanced negotiations regarding investment which would fully fund it through deployment and commercial launch, and while it was close to obtaining financing, “the process did not progress because of the financial impact and market turbulence” related to the crisis.

In filing a voluntary motion for bankruptcy in the US, OneWeb said it was seeking approval to use its existing cash to continue to fund the business while it seeks a buyer. The company added it had been forced to reduce its workforce.

The move comes a week after OneWeb announced it had advanced its plans to begin offering commercial broadband services through a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) birds with the launch of an additional 34 satellites on 21 March, which took its total to 74.

It aims to provide high-bandwidth, low latency internet services from an initial constellation of 650 birds, with a commercial launch scheduled for later this year.

The company had already secured $3.4 billion in debt and equity financing from a number of high profile companies, including a large investment from SoftBank.

CEO Adrian Steckel said its current situation was a consequence of the coronavirus crisis, but it remained “convinced of the social and economic value of our mission”.

“Today is a difficult day for us at OneWeb. So many people have dedicated so much energy, effort, and passion to this company and our mission.”

“Our hope is that this process will allow us to carve a path forward that leads to the completion of our mission, building on the years of effort and the billions of invested capital.”