Bharti-backed OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company, on Sunday confirmed the successful deployment and contact of 36 satellites launched by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR) in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.
Lift-off took place on Sunday at 9 am. OneWeb’s satellites separated successfully from the rocket and were dispensed in nine phases over a period of 1 hour and 14 minutes, with the signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed.
According to an official statement, this is OneWeb’s 18th launch, its third this year, bringing the total of OneWeb’s constellation to 618 satellites.
“The OneWeb constellation design calls for 588 satellites for global coverage and additional satellites are planned for resiliency and redundancy. With today’s successful launch, the constellation is in place to soon deliver global services,” the statement said.
“By the year-end, OneWeb will be ready to roll out global coverage, enhancing its existing connectivity solutions that are already live in regions north of 50 degrees latitude as it brings new areas online by partnering with leading providers,” it added.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Executive Chairman of OneWeb, said, “In my work, I have seen the power of connectivity to bring benefits to all, wherever they are. Yet half the world’s population does not have access to fast, reliable connectivity. Today’s launch represents a major step towards closing the digital divide. OneWeb’s global constellation will play a pivotal role in realising this dream.”
Lauding the Centre, Mittal said that the government’s target to significantly expand access to high-speed internet connectivity is vital.
“Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Government of India’s target to significantly expand access to high-speed internet connectivity is vital, and OneWeb is grateful for all the support. 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,” he said.
Somanath S, Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, ISRO, said that the launch is an important milestone for ISRO as it demonstrated the successful launch of a second consecutive commercial payload of OneWeb.
“This valued customer trusted our capability and we have proved it in a very short span of time. This launch has created a new record in Indian space history. With this launch of LVM3, through NewSpace India Ltd, ISRO is confident of handling many more such launches on demand for both LEO and GEO missions in the future. I wish OneWeb great success in globalizing the completed constellation,” he said.
Radhakrishnan D, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, NewSpace India Limited, said, “Successful injection of 36 OneWeb Gen-1 satellites from UK by LVM3 today, is an extremely proud moment for NSIL and the entire ISRO fraternity.”
UK Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan said, “The completion of the LEO constellation is hugely significant both for OneWeb and the UK’s wider sector. We invested in OneWeb’s vision to bridge the global digital divide, and our burgeoning space sector is transforming the UK into the perfect base for like-minded companies to realise their stratospheric potential.”
Neil Masterson, Chief Executive of OneWeb, said that this is the most significant milestone in the history of OneWeb, as it reached the satellites needed for global coverage.
“Over several years we have remained focused on our commitment to deliver a network that will provide connectivity for our customers and communities that need it most. With today’s satellite deployment, facilitated by our expert team and our partners at ISRO and NSIL, we are realising this central ambition and are even closer to changing lives at scale.”