In its sixth consecutive successful flight on Sunday, ISRO’s heaviest rocket LVM3 launched out from Sriharikota space port, successfully placing 36 satellites of UK-based OneWeb group company into intended orbits. The 43.5-meter-tall rocket took off at 9 a.m. from the second launch pad here, approximately 135 kilometres from Chennai, at the end of a 24.5-hour countdown. The launch was the 18th for OneWeb Group, while it would be ISRO’s second mission in 2023 following the successful launch of the SSLV/D2-EOS07 mission in February.
“This rocket (LVM3-M3) also has the S200 motors that are designed with increased margins and features which are suited for Gaganyaan configuration. We are happy that it performed very well in this mission.” ISRO Chairman S Somanath said, addressing scientists at the Mission Control Centre. “There were many more improvements in this rocket, which are aimed towards making it human-rated in the other stages and systems as well,” he added. “I am very happy to see the progress incrementally happening towards Gaganyaan Mission as well.”
OneWeb’s global services to begin soon
With today’s mission, OneWeb’s fleet would have 616 satellites, more than enough to start worldwide services later this year. According to OneWeb, this is the company’s second satellite deployment from India, showing the collaboration between the UK and Indian space sectors.
According to the company, OneWeb would deliver secure solutions not only to enterprises but also to towns, villages, municipalities, and schools throughout India, including the most remote locations.
What happens in the Low-Earth Orbit?
After being placed in low-Earth orbit, the satellites would be separated into 12 planes at an altitude of around 1,200 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. ISRO stated that each plane would be separated in altitude by 4 km to avoid inter-plane collisions.
This is LVM3’s sixth flight, previously known as the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII (GSLVMkIII) with a cryogenic upper stage. It has five missions in a row, including the Chandrayaan-2.
The second dedicated mission for NewSpace India Ltd, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, is part of a contract signed with Network Access Associates Ltd, United Kingdom (OneWeb Group Company) for the launch of 72 satellites into Low-Earth orbits (LEO). ISRO launched the first batch of 36 satellites of the OneWeb Group enterprise on October 23, 2022.