The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday launched 36 OneWeb satellites into space in a textbook mission. The spacecraft lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota to Low Earth Orbit with probes from the UK-based company.
The OneWeb constellation is a network of satellites around the planet that are aimed at providing broadband connectivity across the world. The UK company is implementing a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. India’s Bharti Enterprises serves as a major investor and shareholder in OneWeb.
The 150-kilogram satellites are deployed in 12 planes, with each plane separated by four kilometers in altitude to prevent an inter-plane collision.
The LVM-III is the redesignated title of India’s heaviest launch vehicle, Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV-MkIII). The sole reason behind changing the name of the vehicle from GSLV to LVM is that the rocket will not deploy the satellite in a geosynchronous orbit. The OneWeb satellites operate in Low Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of 1,200 kilometers.
LVM3 M3/OneWeb India-2 Mission is continuing.— ISRO (@isro) March 26, 2023
First 16 of 36 satellites are injected into intended orbits.
The three stages of the rocket performed nominally, taking the spacecraft to its designated orbit. This was the second launch of the LVM-III with the OneWeb satellites as part of a contract between the UK company and New Space India Limited (NSIL). The deployment of the satellite is to happen as the mission is 75 minutes long, one of the longest for the spacecraft.
The spacecraft began deploying the satellites after reaching an altitude of over 400 kilometers above Earth. The 36 satellites were deployed in five stages on their respective orbital planes after the shutdown of the cryo stage.
This was the second big mission for ISRO in 2023. The Indian space agency had previously launched the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) on its second demonstration mission earlier this year.