The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Sunday successfully launched its heaviest payload rocket, LVM3, carrying 36 OneWeb satellites from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
Later during the day, Bharti-backed OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, confirmed the successful deployment and contact of 36 satellites launched by NewSpace India (NSIL).
The lift-off took place on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. OneWeb’s satellites separated successfully from the rocket and were dispensed in nine phases over a period of an hour and 14 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.
This was the second mission for Network Access Associates, United Kingdom (a OneWeb Group Company), as part of a deal with NSIL to launch 72 satellites to LEO. The first set of 36 satellites was launched on October 23.
This is OneWeb’s 18th launch and third this year. With this the company's overall constellation count has gone up to 618 satellites. The OneWeb constellation design calls for 588 satellites for global coverage. Additional satellites have been planned for resiliency and redundancy. By year-end, the firm will be ready to roll out global coverage, enhancing its existing connectivity solutions that are already live in regions north of 50 degrees latitude, as it brings new areas online by partnering with leading providers.
“In my work I have seen the power of connectivity bringing benefits to all, wherever they are. Yet half the world’s population does not have access to fast, reliable connectivity. Today’s launch represents a major step towards closing the digital divide. OneWeb’s global constellation will play a pivotal role in realising this dream,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb.
This mission marks OneWeb’s second satellite deployment from India. Once activated, OneWeb’s coverage solutions will bring secured connectivity to enterprises, towns, villages, municipalities and schools, including the most remote areas across the country.
“This launch is a very important milestone for Isro as we demonstrated the successful launch of a second consecutive commercial payload of OneWeb. This valued customer trusted our capability and we have proved it in a very short span of time. This launch has created a new record in Indian space history. With this launch of LVM3, through the NewSpace India Ltd, Isro is confident of handling many more such launches on demand for both LEO and GEO missions in the future. I wish OneWeb great success in globalising the completed constellation,” said Somanath S, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, Isro. According to industry experts, this will aid in addressing the issue of low fixed broadband penetration and bridge the digital divide in the country's most remote areas.
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“This is the most significant milestone in the history of OneWeb, as we reach the satellites needed for global coverage. Over several years we have remained focused on our commitment to deliver a network that will provide connectivity for our customers and communities that need it most. With today’s satellite deployment, facilitated by our expert team and our partners at ISRO and NSIL, we are realising this central ambition and are even closer to changing lives at scale,” said Neil Masterson, Chief Executive of OneWeb.