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India confirms OneWeb launches

July 4, 2022

By Chris Forrester

A massive Indian rocket (GSLV Mk3) will launch in October, and again in January 2023, carrying satellites for the OneWeb low Earth orbiting mega-constellation.

India’s Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Chairman, Dr S Somanath confirmed the order from OneWeb and explained that the October launch would be the maiden flight for the rocket.

The GSLV Mk3 rocket is a larger development of the well-established PSLV version. PSLV can carry payloads of some 1750 kgs but the more powerful GSLV can handle up to 4 tonnes and place that cargo into a geostationary transfer orbit.

News has also emerged that OneWeb will also use Relativity Space’s second-generation rockets starting in 2025. Relativity Space announced that OneWeb signed a launch services agreement for multiple launches of OneWeb’s Gen 2 satellites on Relativity’s Terran R reusable launch vehicle now under development and which contains many 3D printed parts.

OneWeb’s immediate requirements are to get its 648 satellites into orbit. Some two-thirds are already in space although 36 satellites were ‘confiscated’ by Russia at the start of the Ukraine war, and are sitting at the Baikonur launch site.

But OneWeb is already planning for a follow-on fleet of larger craft and which are expected to include navigation payloads.

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