Geopolitics has inadvertently revealed its far-reaching impact during the Russia-Ukraine war. OneWeb, a London based satellite company, held off its launch of 36 satellites after a forced suspension of the use of Russian Soyuz rockets. Russia’s loss has benefited India as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully placed the 26 satellites in orbit.
OneWeb had filed for bankruptcy following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Bharti Group and the UK government bought the company to bring it out of bankruptcy. They further invested US$ one billion, along with outside investments. The first generation constellation consists of 648 satellites. With the latest launch, they have 462 satellites in orbit.
LVM3 is a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (GSLV MK3), the most prominent Indian rocket yet. The name change reflects the destination orbit. OneWeb constellation operates in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). LVM3 boasts complete indigenised technology with a stellar track record. It has had four consecutive successes, including high-profile launches like the Chandrayaan-2 and human rating trials for the Gaganyaan programme. ISRO and NSIL worked with OneWeb to capture the precise requirement and rework the LVM3. The cryogenic stage of the launch vehicle uniquely orients and re-orients itself in the orthogonal direction. This enabled precise launch with adequate gaps for collision avoidance. NSIL also ensured it fit into OneWeb’s timeline.
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Why Russia didn’t launch Satellites?
In March, Russia refused to launch the three dozen satellites until its demands we The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, sought assurances from OneWeb that satellite constellation would not be used for defence applications. Further, OneWeb asked to remove the UK government as a shareholder. This unfolded as the Soyuz rocket with the satellites was at the launchpad. Roscosmos has itself severed ties with long-standing partners citing sanctions. An satellite internet constellation, Starlink, has provided Ukraine with internet access. might also have been a factor in the Russian rationale for isolating Western influence OneWeb.
How ISRO got benefitted –
Building on the relationship with ISRO and NSIL, OneWeb announced the target to provide access to the internet through its constellations through the length and breadth of the country. If OneWeb is to be believed, they will be ready as soon as 2023. The company’s services are already available above 50 degrees North and South. The latest launch has brought the coverage closer to the Equator. The largest investor in OneWeb, Sunil Bharti Mittal of the Bharti Group, was ecstatic to add an Indian element to OneWeb. Further, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ISRO for opening the domestic space sector for private participation.
The largest investor in OneWeb, Sunil Bharti Mittal of the Bharti Group, was ecstatic to add an Indian element to OneWeb. Further, he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ISRO for opening the domestic space sector for private participation.
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