India’s GSLV-Mark3 rocket launches 36 OneWeb satellites

India’s GSLV-Mark3 rocket, its most powerful, has successfully placed 36 OneWeb satellites into orbit. As of this writing, the first 16 of the 36 satellites had successfully deployed.

This was the first international commercial launch for the GSLV rocket, previously used exclusively for Indian launches. It was also the first launch of OneWeb satellites since its deal with Russia was broken off due to the Ukraine war. Though the company had also quickly signed SpaceX to resume launches, I suspect that since half of OneWeb is owned by a major Indian investment company, India was given favored treatment in determining who would launch first.

This was the third successful launch in 2022 for India, the most since that country shut down in 2020 due to its panic over the Wuhan flu.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race remains unchanged:

48 SpaceX
45 China
16 Russia
8 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise still leads China 68 to 45, though it now trails the world combined 70 to 68.

OneWeb announces delivery of 36 satellites to India for launch

Capitalism in space: OneWeb yesterday announced the delivery of 36 satellites to India for launch on that nation’s biggest rocket, the GSLV-Mark3.

Though no date for launch was mentioned, the press release did say this:

One additional launch will take place this year and three more are targeted for early next year to complete the constellation.

This suggests two launches before the end of the year, one by India with the second already contracted to SpaceX. As for the three launches next year, it is unclear yet who will launch them. OneWeb has contracts with SpaceX, Relativity, and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of India’s government space program which is doing this year’s GSLV launch. While Relativity has not yet launched, either SpaceX or NSIL could handle those launches for sure next year.