Home / Science / ISRO to launch 36 satellites of OneWeb later this month. Details here

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a CPSE under the Department of Space and the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has signed two launch service contracts with M/s Network Access Associated Limited (M/s OneWeb), United Kingdom, for launching OneWeb LEO Broadband Communication Satellites on board ISRO's heaviest launcher LVM3.

“This contract with M/s OneWeb is a historic milestone for NSIL and ISRO, as LVM3 is making its entry into the Global commercial launch service market. As part of the Contract, 36 satellites will be placed into orbit by one LVM3, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre," said ISRO in a statement.

OneWeb is a global communications network, powered from space, enabling connectivity for govemments, businesses, and communities. It is implementing a constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites. India's Bharti serves as a major investor and shareholder in OneWeb.

Two solid strap-on boosters and a liquid core stage of LVM3 have been fully integrated at the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR. Integration of 36 OneWeb satellites after successful completion of health checks have been assembled with the dispenser unit. In the coming days, the integration of the cryogenic upper stage of the launch vehicle and the integration of payload fairing with 36 satellites will take place. Based on the success-oriented schedule for the remaining activities, the launch is nominally envisaged during the 3/4th week of October 2022.

OneWeb has teamed up with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of national space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to facilitate the launch.

With this launch, OneWeb will have over 70 per cent of its planned 'Gen 1 LEO constellation' in orbit as it progresses to deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity services around the world, the company said in a statement.

"The launch will be the company's 14th overall and the satellites will be put into orbit by the heaviest ISRO rocket, the GSLV-MkIII, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre," the statement said.

An additional launch will take place this year, while three more launches are targeted for early next year to complete the constellation, OneWeb said.

The company termed the upcoming launch as pivotal moment "demonstrating tremendous momentum and progress towards delivering global coverage next year".

"OneWeb resumes its launch programme with leading partners in the satcom industry and the company's services are already available in Alaska, Canada, UK, and the Arctic region," the statement said.

Bharti Enterprises, a major investor and shareholder in OneWeb, this year announced a distribution partnership with Hughes Communications India Pvt Ltd(HCIPL). OneWeb will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in the hard-to-reach areas "playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide across India".

"OneWeb's dedication to industry collaboration has allowed us to successfully navigate the ever-changing global environment and prepare for yet another milestone launch. We are proud of our ability to adapt and remain on track to deliver global connectivity in the hardest to reach places," Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, said.

Undertaking the launch of 36 OneWeb satellites on-board GSLV-MkIII from India is a "historic moment" for NSIL and ISRO, Radhakrishnan D, Chairman and Managing Director of NewSpace India Limited, said.

"We are excited to see the arrival of the satellites and the ground support equipment in India in preparation for the launch," Radhakrishnan added.

The stage is all set for some high-voltage action as big names like Jio and OneWeb gear up for a slice of the lucrative satellite-based broadband services market in India. Nelco and Telesat too have completed successful LEO demonstrations in the country for enterprise, telecom and government sectors.

The broadband from space segment is also being keenly watched by tech billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX Starlink and Amazon's Project Kuiper.

Earlier this month, Reliance Jio Infocomm's satellite unit received a Letter of Intent (LoI) from the telecom department for satellite communication services. The LoI was issued to Jio Satellite Communications Ltd (JSCL).

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