Bharti Enterprises-backed satellite communications company OneWeb on Sunday launched 36 more satellites with Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and NewSpace India (NSIL) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota through Isro’s Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3).
The launch is critical for OneWeb to enable global coverage of satellite-based internet connectivity by the end of this year.
This was OneWeb’s 18th launch to date and its third this year, taking its total constellation to 618 satellites. “OneWeb has crossed the threshold to be able to provide its global coverage in India, a country whose ambitions in enhancing space-based connectivity are being driven by NewSpace India and Isro. Overall, this is an incredibly exciting time for the satellite connectivity industry, and I am delighted that the UK and India are at the forefront of developments,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, executive chairman of OneWeb and Bharti Enterprises.
Also read: James Webb telescope captures big, bright globular cluster of stars; Messier 55 spotted
The development is key with respect to internet penetration in the low-lying and hilly areas where internet through mobile networks becomes difficult to provide. 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, the company said.
By the year-end, the company will roll out global coverage, enhancing its existing connectivity solutions that are already live in regions north of 50-degrees latitude. OneWeb already has connectivity solutions in Alaska, Canada, the UK, Greenland and the wider Arctic area and is bringing new areas online by partnering with companies like VEON, Orange, Galaxy Broadband, Paratus, Telespazio, and more.
“This launch has created a new record in the 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 (low-earth orbit) and GEO (geostationary earth orbit) missions in the future,” said Somanath S, secretary, department of space, and chairman, Isro.
On March 10, OneWeb had launched 40 new satellites into orbit with Elon Musk-owned spacecraft manufacturing company SpaceX from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The company targets taking its total satellite count in space to 648. The OneWeb constellation design needs 588 satellites for global coverage. Additional satellites are planned for resiliency and redundancy, the company said.
In October last year, OneWeb had launched 36 satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in collaboration with Isro and NSIL.
Also read: Swirling sand clouds found on planet 40 light-years away from Earth; James Webb telescope makes stunning revelations
“This mission would mark accomplishment of full constellation and commencement of commercial broadband services globally by OneWeb. NSIL look forward to be associated with OneWeb not only in the area of providing launch solutions but also in several other business endeavors that would benefit both companies,” said Radhakrishnan D, chairman and managing director of NSIL.
According to AK Bhatt, director general of Indian Space Association (ISpA), the launch will aid in addressing the issue of low fixed broadband penetration and bridge the digital divide in the country’s most remote areas.