Chennai, Sep 20: Thirty-six satellites of OneWeb, an Indo-UK joint venture satellite communications company, have reached India’s rocket port to be orbited by an Indian rocket, the company said.
The satellites will be launched by Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) heavy lift rocket, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV MkIII).
Interestingly, this will be the GSLV MkIII’s first commercial launch.
With this launch, OneWeb will have more than 70 per cent of its planned Gen 1 Low Earth orbit (LEO) constellation in orbit as it progresses to deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity services around the world.
OneWeb plans to have a constellation of 650 satellites in LEO to offer communication services.
The UK company and India’s NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO, had earlier entered into an agreement for space orbiting the satellites.
“One additional launch will take place this year and three more are targeted for early next year to complete the constellation,” OneWeb said.
Bharti Enterprises, a major investor and shareholder in OneWeb, this year announced a distribution partnership with Hughes Communications India Private Ltd.
OneWeb will connect towns, villages and local and regional municipalities in the hardest-to-reach areas, thus playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide across India.
“Undertaking the launch of 36 OneWeb satellites on-board GSLV-MkIII from India is a historic moment for NSIL and ISRO. We are excited to see the arrival of the satellites and the ground support equipment in India in preparation for the launch. Teams at NSIL/ ISRO are sincerely working towards providing the best of the launch service solutions and support for OneWeb satellites, and we wish their teams great success in their forthcoming activities at SDSC-SHAR and launch,” Radhakrishnan D, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, NSIL, said.
“OneWeb’s dedication to industry collaboration has allowed us to successfully navigate the everchanging 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.
“With many thanks to our top-of-the line partners ISRO and NSIL, as well as our shareholder Bharti Global, for their continued stewardship, we were able to facilitate this upcoming pioneering launch in Sriharikota, India,” said Neil Masterson, CEO, OneWeb said.
Space sector experts had earlier told IANS that the US and Europe’s economic sanctions against Russia for its military action in Ukraine may throw up economic opportunities for the Indian space sector, instead of burdening it with economic cost.
They also said that to cash in on the opportunities, India should accelerate its satellite launch capabilities, and announce productivity-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for the aerospace sector.
“All those countries feeling the pinch due to the absence of Russian rockets for satellite launches may look at alternatives. While the bulk of the satellite launch contracts will be taken by the US and Europe, there will be others who may look at other options. India’s neutrality has created a new market segment,” Chaitanya Giri, Founder, DAWON Advisory & Intelligence, had told IANS.
The board of OneWeb — jointly owned by India’s Bharti Global and the UK government — had voted to suspend satellite launches from the Baikonur rocket port in Russia.