OneWeb India-2 Mission: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 36 OneWeb satellites towards low-Earth orbit on Sunday, March 26, at 9:00 am IST. The satellites were launched aboard ISRO’s largest rocket LVM3 (Launch Vehicle Mark III), from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, as part of the OneWeb India-2 Mission.
This is the second mission for London-based communications company OneWeb Network Access Associates Limited under a commercial agreement with ISRO and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian space agency. OneWeb India-1 mission, the first collaboration between OneWeb, ISRO, and NSIL, launched 36 satellites to low-Earth orbit on October 23, 2022.
OneWeb is backed by Bharti Enterprises.
The mission, also called LVM-M3, launched the satellites towards a 450-kilometre circular low-Earth orbit with an inclination of 87.4 degrees. OneWeb India-2 Mission marks the sixth flight of LVM3, or GSLV-Mark III (Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle Mark III).
All about LVM-M3
The total weight of the satellites launched by LVM3 is 5,805 kilograms. The height of the launch vehicle is 43.5 metres, and its lift-off mass was 643 tonnes.
OneWeb India-2 Mission is OneWeb’s 18th launch, and its third this year. If the mission successfully places the satellites into the intended orbit, there will be a total of 618 satellites in OneWeb’s constellation, ISRO says on its website.
OneWeb India-2 Mission will be a major milestone for the London-based company, because this launch will complete OneWeb’s Gen-1 (first generation) constellation to fulfil its goal of enabling global coverage in 2023. The mission would make OneWeb the first low-Earth orbit operator to reach this milestone.
On March 9, 2023, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launched 40 OneWeb satellites to low-Earth orbit, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This was the penultimate mission to complete OneWeb’s Gen-1 constellation.
In the OneWeb Gen-1 constellation, the satellites are equally divided among 12 planes. The constellation operates at an altitude of about 1,200 kilometres above Earth’s surface. Each plane is separated by an altitude of four kilometres to prevent inter-plane collision.
OneWeb is trying to grow its fleet of satellites in order to expand its connectivity facilities. The company has partnered with leading providers including VEON, Orange, Galaxy Broadband, Paratus, and Telespazio, among others, to bring connectivity solutions in different regions of the world.