India’s GSLV MkIII rocket, renamed for this mission as LVM3 M2, on Sunday lifted off with 36 satellites of the UK-based ‘OneWeb’ from the rocket port here.
The 43.5 metre tall and weighing 644 ton LVM3 M2 rocket carrying 36 satellites weighing totally 5,796 kg or about 5.7 ton blasted off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 12.07 a.m.
Just over 19 minutes into its flight, the LVM3 will sling the 36 small broadband communication satellites of Network Access Associated Ltd (OneWeb) in low earth orbit (LEO).
If the launch is successful, India would have launched a total of 381 foreign satellites starting from 1999.
Another set of 36 satellites from OneWeb is planned to be put into orbit in January 2023.
OneWeb, is a joint venture between India Bharti Global and the UK government.
The satellite company plans to have a constellation of about 650 satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) to offer communication services.
The LVM3 is a three stage rocket with the first stage fired with liquid fuel, the two strap on motors powered by solid fuel, the second by liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
The ISRO’s heavy lift rocket has a carrying capacity of 10 ton to the LEO and four ton to the Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO).
Normally the GSLV rocket is used for launching India’s geostationary communication satellites. And hence it was named as GeoSynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The GSLV MkIII refers to the third generation rocket.
As the rocket that will fly on Sunday morning will be orbiting the OneWeb satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the ISRO has renamed GSLV MkIII as LVM3 (Launch Vehicle MkIII).
The rocket mission has several firsts for the Indian space sector. It is the first commercial launch of GSLV MkIII and for the first time an Indian rocket will be ferrying a payload of about six tonnes.
Similarly, the OneWeb is using an Indian rocket to put its satellites into orbit for the first time. Also, it is the first commercial launch of GSLV MkIII contracted by NewSpace India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO, and for the first time a renamed GSLV MkIII is being used for launching satellites in LEO.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)