India Successfully Launches Rocket Carrying 36 Satellites Into Orbit

India Successfully Launches Rocket Carrying 36 Satellites Into Orbit
The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F10) carrying EOS-03, an Earth Observation satellite, taking off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, on Aug. 12, 2021. (Indian Space Research Organization via AP)
Aldgra Fredly

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said Sunday that it had successfully launched its heaviest rocket carrying 36 satellites owned by London-based satellite company OneWeb into orbit.

The LVM3 rocket was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 12:07 a.m. local time carrying 36 OneWeb satellites and weighing 5,796 kilograms in total, according to the agency.

ISRO said the satellites detached successfully from the rocket and were dispensed in nine phases over a period of 1 hour and 15 minutes.

"Today's event is very historic to the country and the Indian Space Programme. This is the first-ever commercial launch of LVM3 with the heaviest payload to [low earth orbit]," ISRO chairman Somanath S. said in a statement.

"This will pave way for more launches in the future. The interaction with OneWeb was so seamless, right from the receipt of the satellites till injection," he added.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO on the successful launch of the LVM3 rocket, which he described as India's "heaviest launch vehicle."

"LVM3 exemplifies Atmanirbhata [and] enhances India's competitive edge in the global commercial launch service market," Modi said in a tweet. Atmanirbhata refers to India's self-reliance.
The liftoff from southern India was the first launch for OneWeb since breaking with the Russian Space Agency in March because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

OneWeb now has 462 satellites flying, which is more than 70 percent of what the company said it needs to provide broadband services around the world.

Despite this year’s disruption, OneWeb said it remains on track to activate global coverage in 2023 with a planned constellation of 648 satellites. It’s already providing service in the northernmost latitudes.

It was the 14th launch of OneWeb satellites and relied on India’s heaviest rocket, normally reserved for government spacecraft. All of the previous OneWeb flights were on Russian rockets, including the first launch in 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.