“LVM3-M3/OneWeb India-2 mission. The launch is scheduled for March 26, 2023, at 0900 hours IST from the second launch pad at SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota,” Isro tweeted on Monday.
Sunday lift-off of 36 satellites will be the 18th launch of OneWeb and will add to the UK-based company’s existing constellation of 582 satellites. On March 9, SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket placed 40 OneWeb satellites in orbit.
Isro’s commercial arm NSIL had signed a contract with OneWeb to launch 72 satellites in two phases for a launch fee of over Rs 1,000 crore. Thereafter, the first batch of 36 Oneweb satellites was successfully launched from Sriharikota on October 23 last year.
In a recent tweet, OneWeb thanked Isro and its commercial wing NSIL for the upcoming launch, saying: “Exciting news from India as we confirm the encapsulation of our 36 satellites ahead of #OneWebLaunch18; our final launch which will complete our Gen 1 constellation.” OneWeb also mentioned the importance of collaboration between the UK and Indian space industries.
India’s Bharti Global, France-based satellite service provider Eutelsat and the UK government are the company’s largest shareholders, while Japan’s SoftBank retains an equity holding of 12%.
With Bharti as its major investor, OneWeb will connect towns, villages, and local and regional municipalities in the hardest-to-reach areas, thus playing a critical role in bridging the digital divide across India. With each new area covered, OneWeb and its partners can provide internet connectivity to a greater number of unserved and underserved rural and remote communities and businesses, it said.
OneWeb has already launched internet from space services in countries located above 50 degrees north latitude — Alaska, Canada, Greenland, UK and Northern Europe.