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Special Content

Issue no 32, 05-11 November 2022

India's Largest Rocket Makes Maiden Commercial Flight with Heaviest Payload


The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-3 (also designated LVM3) carrying 36 OneWeb satellites, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on 23rd October 2022. The launch marks the first dedicated commercial launch for New Space India Limited (NSIL) using the LVM3 rocket

How was the Launch Unique?: This was the first LVM3- dedicated commercial launch on demand through NSIL, a Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Space and the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This was also the first multi-satellite launch of LVM3 to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and the first Indian rocket with a 6T payload. NSIL has signed two launch service contracts with Network Access Associates Limited (OneWeb), United Kingdom, for launching OneWeb LEO Broadband Communication Satellites on-board ISRO's heaviest launcher LVM3. The October 23rd launch was the first of these two. This contract is a historic milestone for NSIL and ISRO, as LVM3 has now made its entry into the global commercial launch service market. With this successful launch, the LVM3 has become a catalyst for the Indian Space Programme, opening new vistas for heavy payloads to the LEO. This was one of the biggest commercial orders by India's premier space organization, and the first using the LVM3 rocket.


On April 20, 2022, it was announced that OneWeb, the LEO satellite communications company and NSIL have entered into an agreement that will help ensure that OneWeb completes its satellite launch programme. OneWeb is a global communications network, powered from space, enabling connectivity for governments, businesses, and communities. It is implementing a constellation of LEO satellites. India's Bharti Enterprises serves as a major investor and shareholder in OneWeb. On September 20, 2022, OneWeb's 36 satellites arrived at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota SDSCSHAR, India. On October 23, 2022, OneWeb's satellites separated successfully from the LVM3 and were dispensed in nine phases over a period of one hour and 15 minutes, with signal acquisition on all 36 satellites confirmed. All 36 satellites are operational, bringing OneWeb's total Gen 1 LEO constellation to 462 satellites. With its 14th launch, OneWeb has more than 70 per cent of its planned 648 Gen 1 LEO satellite fleet in orbit as it progresses to deliver "highspeed, low-latency connectivity services around the world". The company needs four more launches to meet its target of activating global coverage in 2023.


LVM3: The LVM3 launch vehicle, realized with completely indigenized technology, had four consecutive successful missions, which includes the critical Chandrayaan-2 mission. The vehicle has gone through several critical tests as a part of human rating for the Gaganyaan programme. The cryo stage was uniquely designed to orient and reorient in orthogonal direction to meet the customer requirements of injecting satellites precisely and with a gap to avoid collision. The vehicle was realized in a short span of time on a demand-driven basis to meet the user's timeline. The LVM3, or the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark 3 rocket, was conceived primarily for launching geostationary satellites with a payload capacity of 4T, which can be used for launching 6T payloads for LEO. Launchers or launch vehicles are used to carry payloads such as spacecraft, space probes, and satellites from the surface to the outer space. India has two operational launchers - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).


NewSpace India Limited: Incorporated during March 2019, NSIL is a CPSE, under Department of Space, Government of India and the commercial arm of ISRO. As part of space reforms announced by the Government during January 2020, NSIL got mandated to undertake operational satellite missions on a "Demand Driven" model, wherein NSIL has the responsibility to build, launch, own, and operate the satellites and provide services to customers. In June this year, GSAT-24 became the first demanddriven satellite to be configured by ISRO and owned, operated, and funded by NSIL for a commercial user. The Indian Space Programme primarily focuses on deriving socio-economic benefits from space technology and its applications for national development. The NSIL comes into play where the country can commercially exploit the products and services emanating from the Indian Space Programme. The NSIL is enabling Indian Industries to scale up a hightechnology manufacturing base for space programme through technology transfer mechanisms and catering to emerging global commercial small satellite launch service market, satellite services for various domestic and international application needs and enabling space technology spin-offs for the betterment of mankind through industry interface.


Compiled by: Anuja Bhardwajan & Annesha Banerjee Source: ISRO / NSIL / OneWeb