The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) heaviest rocket Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3 or GSLV Mark 3) which took off from the second launch pad (SLP) of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota at 12.07 a.m. (IST) has successfully orbited 36 satellites of U.K.-based OneWeb.
This is OneWeb’s 14th launch, bringing the constellation to 462 satellites. This launch represents more than 70% of its planned 648 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite fleet that will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity worldwide.
The 43.5 metre LVM3 weighing around 644 tonne carried 36 satellites weighing 5,796 kg or about 5.7 tonne. With this launch, LVM3 has made its entry into the global commercial launch service market.
LVM3-M2 is the dedicated commercial satellite mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Space, Government of India. This mission is being undertaken as part of the commercial arrangement between NSIL and m/s Network Access Associates Limited (m/s OneWeb Ltd), a U.K. based company. OneWeb is a joint venture between India’s Bharti Enterprises and the U.K. government.
With only four more launches to go, OneWeb remains on track to activate global coverage in 2023, while its connectivity solutions are already live in regions north of 50-degrees latitude.This partnership with NSIL and ISRO demonstrates OneWeb’s commitment to provide connectivity across the length and breadth of India by 2023. From Ladakh to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh, OneWeb will bring secured solutions not only to enterprises but also to towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the hardest-to-reach areas across the country.
Addressing the media an hour after take off, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said that all the satellites got separated successfully. He mentioned that the satellite separation is a slow process. Noting that this is a historic mission that was executed at the shortest possible time, he said the mission happened exactly as planned. He also mentioned that they would place another 36 satellites in the next M3 mission.
Mr. Somnath further said “The LVM3 was conceived primarily for launching geo-stationary satellites with a payload capacity of 4T, which can be used for launching 6T payloads for LEO.” He added, “The mission is very critical to meet the customer’s expectations to launch 36 satellites in 9 phases with precision. The mission was designed in such a way that C25 stage was to handle this operation using in-house built inertial navigation systems.”
Sunil Bharti Mittal, CEO of Bharti Enterprises, whose company is one of the biggest investors in OneWeb, said that it is a new chapter for India in the space sector. He pointed out that there is a shortage of launch vehicles and this is a great opportunity for ISRO.
Mr. Mittal further added “I am proud to be here in Sriharikota, with our partners, ISRO and NSIL. Today my dream of having an Indian element in the OneWeb constellation has been realized. This launch with ISRO and NSIL opens up the space sector in India with the possibility of billions of dollars flowing into the country.”
D. Radhakrishnan, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, NewSpace India Limited, said, “We worked closely with the OneWeb team to support this milestone launch, which has been accomplished in a record time of a few months, while also illustrating the opportunities for satellite connectivity in India. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with OneWeb and utilizing the potential that LEO connectivity has to deliver broadband services across India.”
PM congratulates ISRO
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO, NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL) and IN-SPACe after the rocket successfully placed 36 satellites into the intended orbits.
“Congratulations @NSIL_India @INSPACeIND @ISRO on the successful launch of our heaviest launch vehicle LVM3 with 36 OneWeb satellites meant for global connectivity. LVM3 exemplifies Atmanirbharta & enhances India’s competitive edge in the global commercial launch service market,” he said.