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ISRO’s heaviest rocket GSLV MK3 to blast off for its first ever commercial mission on October 23


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New Delhi: The Indian Space Agency has announced that it would be having a wee hour launch for the first-ever commercial flight of the GSLV Mk3 rocket, which is India’s heaviest launch vehicle. Indian Space Research Organization specified that the launch would be carried out during the wee hours of Sunday, 23rd October, at 0007hours, or seven minutes past midnight hour. 

ISRO will be carrying out this launch, as part of a contract between NewSpace India Limited (ISRO’s commercial arm) and OneWeb, the UK-based Low Earth Orbit Satellite communications company. With this launch, OneWeb will have over 70% of its planned Gen 1 LEO Constellation in orbit. The company is working towards delivering high-speed, low-latency connectivity services around the world. 

“Cryo stage, equipment bay(EB) assembly completed. Satellites are encapsulated and assembled in the vehicle. Final vehicle checks are in progress” ISRO said. 

The GSLV MK3 rocket is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-on motors(burns solid fuel), a core-stage liquid booster(burns a combination of liquid fuels) and a cryogenic upper stage(burns liquid hydrogen with liquid oxygen). GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4-ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of its predecessor, the GSLV Mk II.

Thus far, ISRO has purely relied on its PSLV rocket(that can carry upto 1.75tons to Low Earth Orbit), to do commercial launches. The addition of the GSLV MK3 to this list would mean that India can make a greater impact in the International market and thereby earn revenue from launching heavier customer satellites. While India’s GSLV Mk3 has flown all four Indian national missions successfully till date, this will be the first time that the rocket will be performing the paid service of ferrying customer satellites to space.

Around the third week of September, a Ukrainian Antonov-124 transporter plane, ferrying the 36 OneWeb satellites flew all the way from Florida in the US to the Indian city of Chennai. The satellites were then transported by road to India’s spaceport in Sriharikota, Southern Andhra Pradesh. 


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