Bharti Group-backed OneWeb has entered an arrangement with the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), to launch its satellite in India from next year. Under this arrangement, OneWeb through a letter of intent (LOI) with NSIL, will use Indian-built PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the heavier GSLV-MkIII (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) as potential platforms to launch its satellites to beam high-speed broadband on earth, the company said in a press release. The non-binding LoI was unveiled at the launch of Indian Space Association (ISpA).
OneWeb is a low Earth orbit satellite communications company and will work with stakeholders across for the development of India’s space ecosystem. The company, which is amongst the founding members of ISpA, is building its initial constellation of 648 LEO satellites and has already put 322 satellites into orbit. It has planned to begin its services to the Arctic region including Alaska, Canada, and the UK this year. By late 2022, OneWeb will offer its high-speed, low latency connectivity services in India and the rest of the world.
The company, in a release, said that OneWeb will undertake its 11th launch on Thursday, 14 October, with a further 36 satellites on board. Within a year, the company has passed the halfway stage of its first-generation constellation with 322 satellites which are now in space. ISRO has built formidable launch capabilities and India is part of the select group of countries to have successful launches, Sunil Bharti Mittal, OneWeb Chairman, said. He said that OneWeb will be delighted to use ISRO’s platforms to take broadband connectivity across the earth, oceans and sky. “We believe this initiative will further the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of making India a key hub in the global space ecosystem and also boost the India-UK strategic partnership. We look forward to a deeper engagement with NSIL/ISRO over the coming years,” Mittal added. It may be noted that service testing on the satellites already in orbit is underway. The company said that the results are positive, including seamless satellite and beam handovers, high speeds and low latency.
OneWeb and NewSpace India LTd will expeditiously convert the LoI into a binding agreement after obtaining all necessary approvals from their respective boards. “We are delighted to have OneWeb looking into how our launch capabilities can help meet their global ambition to connect people everywhere. We are making tremendous progress and India is advancing its space capabilities and we look forward to working together,” K. Sivan, Chairman of ISRO, said.