In a big success, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today launched 36 satellites in its heaviest rocket, LVM3.
ISRO’s heaviest rocket blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota in the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday at 12:07 am to place 36 broadband communication satellites into the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for a UK-based OneWeb.
OneWeb is a private satellite communications company, in which India’s Bharti Enterprises is a major investor and shareholder.
ISRO’s heaviest vehicle, LMV3, is also dubbed as one of the heaviest for its ability to carry satellites up to 8,000 kg.
The mission assumes significance as this was LVM3’s maiden commercial mission and also NewSpace India’s (NSIL) first with the said launch vehicle. NSIL is a central public sector enterprise under the Department of Space.
ISRO Chairman S Somanath had conducted a special pooja on Saturday morning at Sri Chengalamma Parameshwari Devi Temple at Sullurpeta in the Tirupati district for the success of GSLV Mark-3 rocket launch.
The 43.5 metre tall rocket was launched at 12.07 am after at the end of the 24-hour countdown with a payload of 5,796 kg. The LVM3-M2 rocket is a three-stage launch vehicle consisting of two solid propellant S200 strap-ons on its sides and core stage comprising L110 liquid stage and C25 cryogenic stage.
Just after 19 minutes after the launch, the LVM3 placed the 36 small broadband communication satellites in low earth orbit (LEO).
The launch is also the first for LVM3-M2 to place the satellites in the Low Earth Orbit (up to 1,200 kms above the earth) unlike Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
ISRO scientists have rechristened the launch vehicle its present name from GSLV-MKK III as the newest rocket is capable of launching 4,000 kilogram class of satellites into GTO and 8,000 kgs of payloads into LEO.
GSLV-Mk III had four successful missions in the past.
Another set of 36 satellites from OneWeb is planned to be put into orbit in January 2023. The satellite company plans to have a constellation of about 650 satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) to offer communication services.
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.