Marking a beginning in its India story, Bharti Group’s OneWeb on Monday announced a pact with the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) to launch satellites from the country. Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal said OneWeb would be the first private player to launch satellites from India through Isro facilities.
The company would launch satellites in India starting 2022, in a move that could be a game changer in terms of hinterland connectivity. Mittal said Isro had built formidable launch capabilities and India was part of the select group of countries to have a history of successful launches. “OneWeb will be delighted to use Isro’s proven platforms to fulfil its vision of taking broadband connectivity across the earth, oceans and sky,” he said at an event where Indian Space Association (ISpA) was inaugurated in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Till date, OneWeb was using space centres in Russia and Kazakhstan for its launches.
Bharti Group’s decision to invest in OneWeb came in July 2020 through a partnership with the UK government.
The cutting edge technology offering high-speed internet speed and low latency becomes even more relevant in the pandemic era.
“With this new initiative that we have taken, I am sure more and more international customers will come to the doorstep of Isro and NSIL (NewSpace India Ltd). We have a great future ahead. The Prime Minister is showing us the way. It’s time for the industry to respond,” Mittal said.
OneWeb is amongst the founding members of ISpA, which strives to be the collective voice of space and satellite companies in India and will work with stakeholders across for the development of India’s space ecosystem, a company statement said.
The company is building its initial constellation of 648 LEO satellites and has already put 322 satellites into orbit. It plans to start services this year to the Arctic region including Alaska, Canada, and the UK and in the second half of 2022 in India.
“By late 2022, OneWeb will offer its high-speed, low latency connectivity services in India and the rest of the world. Service testing on the satellites already in orbit is underway. OneWeb and NSIL will expeditiously convert the LoI into a binding agreement after obtaining all necessary approvals from their respective boards,” the statement said. In under a year, the company has launched 322 satellites in space. Business Standard