OneWeb launches second mission; UK firm completes global coverage

OneWeb launches second mission; UK firm completes global coverage

Following the successful placement of 36 OneWeb satellites by the Indian space agency's heaviest rocket, the Bharti Enterprises-backed UK firm completed its first-generation low earth orbit LEO constellation to provide global coverage.

The Launch Vehicle Mark 3 LVM 3 -- OneWeb India 2 mission took off at 9.00 am India time from the second launch pad at the iconic Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota SDSC-SHAR spaceport off the Andhra Pradesh coast.

The mission completes OneWeb's network of 618 LEO satellites for global broadband connectivity against the initial target of 648 satellites. This was the second mission operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO for the OneWeb subsidiary Network Access Associates, under a commercial agreement with the NewSpace India Ltd NSIL to launch 72 satellites into LEO. NSIL is the commercial arm of ISRO.

The first set of 36 of OneWeb satellites was launched on October 23 last year by the LVM 3 - M 2 - OneWeb India 1 mission.

The LVM 3 is actually a repurposed version of the country's heaviest launch vehicle, Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle Mark 3 GSLV-Mk 3 for the deployment of OneWeb's LEO satellites at an altitude of 1,200 km. The geosynchronous orbit is located about 36,000 km from the Equator.

The satellites totalling about 5,805 kilos were placed in a circular orbit of 450 km with an inclination of 87.4 degrees.

Chairman ISRO Secretary Department of Space Sreedhara Panicker Somanath said, "We look forward to greater engagement with our commercial partners for making this rocket one of the best in its class." This was the sixth flight of LVM 3 that had five successful missions in a row, including the Chandrayaan -- 2 mission.

Chairman of NSIL, Radhakrishnan Durairaj said one thing we saw was the cryogenic stage used for doing such a complex manoeuvre to meet the requirements of OneWeb. This extremely challenging stuff was repeated in the second mission. The 150 - kilogram satellites were deployed in 12 planes separated by a 4 km altitude to prevent a collision. In nine steps, four satellites were ejected sequentially.