OneWeb is a space satellite agency owned by the UK Governments Satellite, which has signed a deal with India to launch its satellite on India’s GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.) As the UK prime minister, Boris has visited India and has signed this deal. This deal includes the usage of India’s space vehicles to launch OneWeb’s satellites onto the lower orbit of the earth’s atmosphere to build a global network.
Why OneWeb Seek India’s Help Launching Its Satellite?
In 1971, the British launched its satellite in its own rocket named Black Arrow. The rocket launching took place in Australia. So far, that is the only incident in history where the British have launched its own satellite into orbit.
Recently OneWeb has been trying to build a global network similar to Starlink. The company’s headquarters is located in London and has reached out to the Russian Space agency previously to launch their satellites. Nearly two-thirds of OneWeb’s satellite has been launched into earth’s orbit. When only one-third of the satellites remained, Russia invaded Ukraine, restricting OneWeb from accessing Russian rockets. The UK also has imposed several sanctions on Russia, causing OneWeb to look for another space agency.
This has left them with only a few options. Currently, American space and rocket projects have been given out to SpaceX, run by Elon Musk. But it will be vain to ask SpaceX to help them launch their satellite in Falcon rockets because of two reasons. One, it is in the testing stage, making it much riskier to carry OneWeb’s satellite. Also, SpaceX has its own global network organization called Starlink, which is OneWeb’s Rival. So OneWeb thought it might not be the wise choice to make.
Prime Minister Moris has reached out to ISSR and the Indian Government and offered a deal which the Indian Government has accepted. Now, OneWeb’s satellites are expected to be carried to the lower orbit.
OneWeb’s Global Networking Satellites
OneWeb has launched 428 satellites into the earth’s orbit with the help of Russian rockets. These launched satellites were able to provide internet to connections above 50° North in latitude. But at least more than 650 additional satellites are needed to provide broadband connection all over the world.
It is estimated to be around 3000 satellites will be launched in the course of five years. But OneWeb hasn’t disclosed any information about how many launches it might be required to complete the project. Also, GSLV rockets can only carry 9 tonnes of equipment hardware to orbit in a single launch. GSLV satellites were last used in 2019 in Chandhrayan-2 missions.
Since there are thousands of satellites going to be launched over in several years, it is expected that Indian and GSLV rockets will play a significant role in the development of OneWeb global networking. Once the agreement has been signed and the satellites are delivered to India, the first launch will take place in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, which is located in Sriharikota.