OneWeb to launch satellites with ISRO rockets

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Chennai, April 21

OneWeb, an Indo-UK joint venture satellite communications company, said on Thursday that it would launch its satellites using the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) rockets.

In a statement, OneWeb, a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government, said an agreement to this effect has been signed with NewSpace India Ltd, the ISRO's commercial arm.

The agreement will help ensure OneWeb completes its satellite launch programme, the company said.

The first launch with New Space India is anticipated in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

The launches will add to OneWeb's total in-orbit constellation of 428 satellites, 66 per cent of the planned total fleet, to build a global network that will deliver high-speed, low-latency connectivity.

"This is yet another historic day for collaboration in Space, thanks to the shared ambition and vision of New Space India and OneWeb. This most recent agreement on launch plans adds considerable momentum to the development of OneWeb's network, as we work together across the Space industry toward our common goal of connecting communities globally," Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb Executive Chairman said.

This launch contract follows a separate agreement between OneWeb and SpaceX to enable the company to resume satellite launches, announced in March 2022.

OneWeb plans to have a constellation of 650 satellites in low earth orbit to offer communication services.

Other terms of the agreement with New Space India are confidential.

The statement is silent on the number of satellites that OneWeb would put into orbit using ISRO's rockets.

Space sector experts had earlier told IANS the US and Europe's economic sanctions against Russia for its war against Ukraine may throw up economic opportunities for the Indian space sector, instead of burdening it with economic cost.

They also said that to cash on the opportunities, India should accelerate its satellite launch capabilities, and announce productivity-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for the aerospace sector.

"All those countries feeling the pinch due to the absence of Russian rockets for satellite launches may look at alternatives. While the bulk of the satellite launch contracts will be taken by the US and Europe, there will be others who may look at other options. India's neutrality has created a new market segment," Chaitanya Giri, Founder, DAWON Advisory & Intelligence, had told IANS.

"The Indo-UK joint venture OneWeb has not leveraged Indian opportunity. ISRO can offer to launch OneWeb's satellites with its GSLV rocket."

The board of OneWeb voted to suspend satellite launches from the Baikonur rocket port in Russia.


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