After months of delay due to the Ukraine conflict, the Indian space agency says its rocket has successfully launched 36 Internet satellites for the UK-based satellite company OneWeb.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) declared the mission successful early Sunday under a commercial agreement between New Space India Limited, a state-owned company, and OneWeb.
“This is the first commercial launch of the new LVM3 rocket [Launch Vehicle Mark 3]’ said ISRO Chairman Sreedhara Panicker Somanath as the launch took place at 00:07 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Andhra Pradesh
This was the 14th launch of OneWeb satellites and used India’s heaviest rocket, normally reserved for government spacecraft. In 2019, OneWeb launched its first satellite.
It was OneWeb’s first launch since it split from Russia’s space agency in March due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Despite the hiatus this year, the British company said it is still on track to launch global coverage next year with a planned constellation of 648 satellites. It is already operational in the northernmost latitudes.
ISRO said on its website that the satellites will be arranged in 12 rings with 49 satellites in each plane in a 1,200 km (745 miles) circular orbit. Every 109 minutes, each satellite completely orbits the heart.
Each OneWeb satellite weighs approximately 150 kilograms (330 pounds).
The launch is significant for India and reflects the gradual opening of its space agency to private clients, according to Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a director specializing in space and security at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.
According to Rajagopalan, India has experience in launching smaller satellites and is trying to capture this market by positioning itself as a satellite launch facility.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine could present an opportunity for India as many countries shun Russian carrier services.
“It has the potential to significantly accelerate this trend,” she said.
To make sure you never miss your favorite NEW stories, we’re happy to send you some reminders
Click Subscribe, then click Allow to turn on notifications