OneWeb will launch 36 LEO satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, which apparently marks the first dedicated commercial launch for NewSpace India using the GSLV-MkIII rocket.
Once the 36 new Low Earth Orbit Satellites are deployed, OneWeb’s constellation will be over 70% complete, with four launches remaining in order to achieve its global coverage ambitions – one more this year, and three more early next year.
OneWeb is working with NewSpace India, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, for the launch which will be the company’s 14th overall. The satellites will be lobbed into orbit by its heaviest ISRO rocket; the GSLV-MkIII.
“OneWeb’s dedication to industry collaboration has allowed us to successfully navigate the everchanging global environment and prepare for yet another milestone launch,” said Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO. “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.”
Radhakrishnan D, Managing Director of NewSpace India added: “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.”
OneWeb has certainly been busy in the last year or so, with partnerships recently signed with companies including Telstra, HD Hyundai Avikus, Marlink, Intelsat, Relativity Space, Telespazio, Astroscale, Telefónica, Kymeta, Telstra and Hanwha Systems Corporation. It’s also in talks to merge with fellow LEO firm Eutelsat.
It announced the new launch programme had been agreed with the Indian Space Research Organisation back in April – and around the same time it also signed a deal with Space X to get its satellites in the sky.
This followed a decision in March to suspend all its upcoming satellite launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a spaceport located in Khazakstan and leased to Russia, which was a hub of satellite launching capability before the current conflict in Ukraine and subsequent international sanctions against Russia. As long as the current situation continues and probably for a long time after that, it is hard to see firms like OneWeb ever going back to using Russian sites to launch their satellites.