OneWeb to Collaborate with NewSpace India for Launches in 2022; Plans to Use India's GSLV

One Web announced a launch agreement with India's largest launch vehicle, the NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), for a 2022 launch for a few of its LEO broadband satellites. The NSIL is also referred to as the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The launches are scheduled to take place this year in Sriharikota from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR. The UK-based mega constellation company had also signed a non-binding letter of intent with NSIL to launch its satellites on GSLV Mark 3. This launch vehicle was a part of India's Chandrayaan-2 lunar exploration mission in 2019.

OneWeb said in a statement, "the launches will add to OneWeb's total in-orbit constellation of 428 satellites, 66 per cent of the planned total fleet."

GSLV India
GSLV liftoff 2018 Wikimedia Commons

There was no official release of the finance related details involved in the launches nor any specifications on the total launches planned. Chris McLaughlin, chief of government, regulatory affairs and engagement at OneWeb explained that the company has plans to utilize India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

The GSLV along with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) are known as the two operational launchers in India. McLaughlin refused to reveal any more information with reference to the number of OneWeb satellites which will be included in a launch.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb executive chairman, told SpaceNews, "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."

PSLV C50 at second launch pad - 2020 Wikimedia Commons

On 21st March the UK-based communication company signed an agreement with SpaceX which will allow the continuation of OneWeb's launch program. The number of satellites along with the timing of the launches remain unannounced. It is also not known whether the launches from India would occur before SpaceX.

As per an India Today report, a small-lift rocket called Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is currently being developed by India which is scheduled for an inaugural launch between July and September due to certain delays.

Even though the communication company incorporates the British government as a shareholder and is based in London, OneWeb's biggest stakeholder is the Indian multinational conglomerate Bharti Global.

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