ISRO places 36 satellites into orbit in its first commercial mission
The space agency’s heaviest rocket, LVM3-M2, placed the satellites into orbit 75 minutes after liftoff.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s heaviest rocket, LVM3-M2, on Sunday successfully placed 36 broadband communication satellites of a British company into orbit.
This was the organisation’s first commercial mission, according to PTI.
The satellites belong to United Kingdom-based firm OneWeb Limited, which entered into a commercial agreement with ISRO’s commercial arm NewSpace India. New Delhi-based business conglomerate Bharti Enterprises is among the key investors in OneWeb.
The LVM3-M2 lifted off from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Research Centre in Sriharikota. All the 36 satellites were placed into orbit about 75 minutes after the rocket lifted off.
The rocket carried a payload of 5,796 kilograms. The launch was the first time that the LVM3-M2 placed satellites in Low Earth Orbit, which is up to 2,000 kilometres from the earth.
On the launch, ISRO chief S Somanath remarked that Diwali has started early for the scientists at the agency.
“Congratulations to the entire launch vehicle team for grabbing the opportunity and making it ready today for the historic mission,” he said. “I also want to thank the OneWeb team for having confidence in us to host the LVM3...we are very hopeful that the next mission of LVM3 will do the same to place the remaining 36 satellites it has been contracted by NSIL.”
Somanath said that the mission was a historic one. “It has been possible because of PM [Narendra] Modi’s support as he wanted LVM3 to come into the commercial market, with NSIL in the forefront, to operationalise our launch vehicles for exploring and expanding the commercial domain,” he said, according to ANI.
NewSpace India chairperson D Radhakrishnan lauded the ISRO team, and said that the mission was a commendable one.
“The three major stakeholders to this particular mission the NSIL, ISRO and OneWeb India, have shown the entire world how to contract and execute the mission in less than 3-4 months,” he added.