India to launch part of OneWeb satellites

OneWeb has signed a contract to use the largest Indian carrier GSLV Mark III to deploy its satellites designed to provide global Internet services. The first launch is scheduled in 2022.

Launch of the GSLV Mark III rocket. Source: ISRO

In the expanded form, the OneWeb grouping should consist of 648 satellite constellations. Their launch into orbit was carried out by Soyuz rockets, which launched 34 – 36 satellites per launch. By February 2022, the company managed to launch 428 satellites (66% of the vehicles) and had to carry out six more launches.

After the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the ultimatum of Roscosmos, OneWeb broke off relations with the aggressor country and ordered its employees to leave the Baikonur cosmodrome, where preparations for the next launch were being carried out. This put the company in a difficult position. In March, it was announced that SpaceX would help OneWeb with finishing the launch of the grouping. The parties have not yet disclosed the details of the agreement and the number of satellites that will be launched using the Falcon 9.

Now it has become known that India will also launch OneWeb vehicles. For this purpose, the largest Indian carrier rocket GSLV Mark III will be used, capable of putting up to 9,000 kg of cargo into low Earth orbit. As in the case of SpaceX, OneWeb has not yet disclosed the details of the contract. It is only known that the first Indian launch of OneWeb is to be planned this year from the territory of the Satish Dhawan Space Center.

The GSLV Mark III rocket consists of two stages and two side boosters. The carrier has three successful space flights on its account. The last launch of the GSLV Mark III was in 2019. Then the rocket sent the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon.

According to