Isro moves rocket with 36 OneWeb satellites to pad, launch on Oct 23


The Indian Space research Organisation (Isro) has finally rolled out the Launch Vehicle Mark-III on the pad for the launch of the OneWeb satellite constellation. The launch is scheduled for October 23 late at 12:07 am from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

Isro has re-designated the GSLV-MkIII to LVM-3 since the rocket will not be depositing the satellites in the geosynchronous orbit, but instead in the Low Earth Orbit. The launch is part of two launch service contracts with M/s Network Access Associated Limited (M/s OneWeb) to launch the satellites.

The agreement was signed between OneWeb and India’s New Space India Limited (NSIL) after Russian denied launch services to the United Kingdom over sanctions from western countries following its invasion of Ukraine. The Soyuz rocket was rolled out on the launch at the Russia-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan when the Russian space agency laid out demands in front of the UK government in order to launch the satellite.

The Launch Vehicle Mark-III on the launchpad. (Photo: Isro)

The demands included a guarantee that OneWeb satellites will not be used for military purposes, and that the UK government withdraw as a shareholder from OneWeb.

OneWeb has since then partnered with not only the Indian space agency but also its rival SpaceX for launch services.

The satellites arrived in India late last month after which work on their integration has been ongoing. The company in a release said that 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.

“It is the first LVM3 dedicated commercial launch on demand through NSIL. 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,” Isro has said.