With this ‘LVM3 M2/OneWeb India-1 Mission’, the first LVM3 dedicated commercial launch on demand through (Isro’s commercial arm) New Space India Ltd (NSIL), LVM3 enters the global commercial launch service market, the Indian space agency said on Thursday. The global satcom company recently snapped its ties with the Russian space company for satellite launches due to the Ukraine war and decided to use the services of Isro for launching its broadband satellites. The company had in March suspended all launches from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in protest against the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
As per some reports, the GSLVMkIII launch is expected in the intervening night of October 21 and 22 but Isro is yet to confirm the launch date.
The proposed mission has several firsts for India. It is the first commercial launch of Isro’s heaviest rocket GSLV MkIII, first time an Indian rocket will be ferrying a payload of about six tonnes, first time OneWeb is using an Indian rocket to put its satellites into orbit and also for the first time GSLV MkIII or its variants is being used for launching satellites in the low earth orbit (LEO).
OneWeb, which had already launched 428 of the total 648 low Earth orbit satellites for the constellation till February 2022, 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. The company’s services are already available in Alaska, Canada, UK, and the Arctic region.
Two solid strap-on boosters and a liquid core stage of LVM3 have been fully integrated at the second launchpad at Sriharikota. 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, Isro said.