After suspending Russian service over war, OneWeb to use Isro rocket to launch 36 sats

NEW DELHI: OneWeb, an India-UK joint venture satellite communications company, on Tuesday announced the arrival of 36 satellites at Satish Dhawan Space Centre ahead of their launch from the Sriharikota centre. With this launch, Bharti-supported OneWeb will have over 70% of its planned Gen 1 LEO constellation of 648 satellites in orbit as it progresses to deliver high-speed and low-latency connectivity services around the world.
The satcom company had in March suspended all launches from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in protest against Moscow’s conflict with Ukraine. Now, OneWeb has partnered with Isro’s commercial arm NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) to facilitate the launch in order to move ahead with the constellation plan.
The launch will be the company’s 14th overall and satellites will be put into orbit by Isro’s heaviest rocket GSLV-MkIII from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, a statement from the company said. One additional launch will take place this year and three more are targeted for early next year to complete the constellation.
OneWeb, which had launched 428 of the total 648 low Earth orbit satellites for the constellation till February 2022, will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in the hardest-to-reach areas, thus playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide across India. The company’s services are already available in Alaska, Canada, UK, and the Arctic region.
Neil Masterson, OneWeb CEO, said: “OneWeb’s dedication to industry collaboration has allowed us to successfully navigate the ever-changing global environment and prepare for yet another milestone launch. We are proud of our ability to adapt and remain on track to deliver global connectivity in the hardest to reach places. With many thanks to our top-of-the line partners Isro and NSIL, as well as our shareholder Bharti Global for their continued stewardship, we were able to facilitate this upcoming pioneering launch in Sriharikota, India.”
NSIL CMD D Radhakrishnan said: “Undertaking the launch of 36 OneWeb satellites on-board GSLV-MkIII from India is a historic moment for NSIL and Isro. We are excited to see the arrival of the satellites and the ground support equipment in India in preparation for the launch. Teams at NSIL/Isro are sincerely working towards providing the best of the launch service solutions and support for OneWeb satellites.”
Over the past few months, OneWeb has announced several innovative strategic partnerships with companies, including Telstra, HD Hyundai Avikus, Marlink, Intelsat, Relativity Space, Telespazio, Astroscale, Telefónica, Kymeta, Telstra and Hanwha Systems Corporation.

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