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India’s GSLV Mk3 rocket to launch Oneweb satellites in Oct’22 and Jan’23: ISRO Chairman

India’s heaviest rocket, the GSLV Mk3, will henceforth be used to perform commercial launches, with two such launches being planned in October this year and January next year, ISRO Chairman, Dr S Somanath said.

He mentioned that UK-based OneWeb had signed up as a customer for both these launches. This comes as a welcome development as it would be the maiden launch of the GSLV Mk3 for a commercial mission. Notably, India has been primarily using its workhorse PSLV rocket to orbit customer satellites.

While the PSLV is capable of placing satellites weighing nearly 1,750kg into Polar orbits (where strategic satellites and imaging satellites are placed), the GSLV rocket can place 4-ton class satellites into the higher orbit, known as Geosynchronous Transfer orbit(GTO).

Somanath also said that the Government of India had decided to transfer the ownership of ten communication satellites to NSIL so that the latter could rent it out and generate revenue.

Queried about the much-awaited Space Policy, Somanath replied that the internal review was complete and that the cabinet approval was pending and the final approval could be expected very soon.

He added that the Space Policy was meant to create clarity on the private sector’s ability to build their own rockets and satellites.

“The bill is targeted to give teeth to Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe)” he said.

Earlier, based on what the minister in charge of India’s Department of Space had said in Parliament, WION had reported that ISRO would have six rocket launch missions in 2022. The minister, Dr Jitendra Singh, had also mentioned about GSLV Mk3 rocket having its maiden commercial flight in 2022.

Radhakrishnan, CMD, NewSpace India Limited, also said that following the space sector reforms announced in 2020, there has been a big mandate to carry out commercial launches and demand-driven missions.

He added that June 2022 alone had seen the successful execution of two missions by NSIL (ISRO’s commercial arm)—GSAT-24 launch (carrying a satellite for DTh service provider TataPlay) from Kourou, French Guiana and PSLV-C53 launch carrying Singaporean satellites. WION

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