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India fills demand for ‘heavy’ satellite launching

September 29, 2022

India’s State Research Organisation (ISRO) is looking to fill an anticipated severe demand for launching large satellite, as well as supplying its latest rocket for constellations looking to deliver their fleets into lower orbits.

ISRO uses its commercial arm, New Space India Ltd (NSIL), which is the follow-on organisation from the tarnished Antrix Corp, for its commercial activity. NSIL’s boss is Radhakrishnan Durairaj, and says that India will increase production of its giant GLSV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket in order to meet anticipated demand.

That demand is expected to come from a portfolio of operators – or would-be operators. They include Amazon’s Kuiper constellation, which despite readying its own Blue Origin/New Glenn is expected to need more than the current – and massive – 83 potential launchers booked over a 5-year period.

Kuiper’s firm orders cover using either its own rockets or the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas-5 and Vulcan Centaur vehicles (38 launches), plus Arianespace (18), plus its own New Glenn (12). The orders have flexibility for additional launches.

Kuiper has to orbit 3,236 satellites in its initial constellation, and in something of a hurry.

Canada-based Telesat has yet to announce who will launch its 198 Lightspeed satellites into orbit.

ISRO/NSIL has won contracts to launch batches of OneWeb’s satellites and replaces the Russian Soyuz launches cancelled because of the Ukraine war. The first GLSV is scheduled for this October, and a second in early 2023. The GLSV Mk3 version can handle some 6800 kgs into LEO orbit and thus can easily manage 36 OneWeb craft (and perhaps more in the 2023 launch).

NSIL’s Durairaj recently said that India could produce 4 to 5 of the GLSV rockets annually.

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