The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully deployed the latest batch of 36 satellites for satellite operator OneWeb, aboard its heavyweight configuration Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)-Mk.III rocket. The launch marked the first commercial mission that used ISRO’s GSLV, also known as the Launch Vehicle Mark III (LVM3).
The collaboration is a result of ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India Limited’s two service contracts, signed with One Web for launching low Earth orbit (LEO) broadband communication satellites. ISRO said that as part of the contract, 36 satellites will be placed into orbit by one LVM3, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
The mission marked the second launch of the year for OneWeb, backed by Bharti Enterprises, after the conflict in Ukraine disrupted the UK operator’s plan for completing its satellite launches this year. Prior to the Ukraine-Russia war, OneWeb was using Russia’s central space agency Roscosmos’ commercial launch services through its Soyuz rockets.
However, amid geopolitical sanctions imposed on Russia by nations including the UK, erstwhile Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said that the OneWeb satellites would not be released back to the company — unless the UK government ceded to the nation’s demand of removing the sanctions.