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

ISRO’s heaviest rocket GSLV MK3 will take off on its first ever commercial mission on October 23

The Indian Space Agency has announced that it will have less than an hour’s launch for the first-ever commercial flight of the GSLV Mk3 rocket, which is India’s heaviest launch vehicle. The Indian Space Research Organization said the launch will take place in the night hours of Sunday, October 23 at 00:07 hours or seven minutes past midnight.

ISRO will carry out this launch as part of a contract between NewSpace India Limited (ISRO’s commercial arm) and OneWeb, a British Low Earth Orbit Satellite communications company. With this launch, OneWeb will have more than 70% of its planned Gen 1 LEO Constellation in orbit. The company works to provide high-speed, low-latency connectivity services around the world.

“Cryo stage, bay assembly (EB) complete. Satellites are encased and assembled in vehicle. Final checks of vehicle underway,” ISRO said.

The GSLV MK3 rocket is a three-stage heavy launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid thrusters (burning solid fuel), a liquid core booster (burning a combination of liquid fuels) and a cryogenic upper stage (burning liquid hydrogen with liquid oxygen). The GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4-tonne class satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tonnes to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), about double the capacity of its predecessor, the GSLV Mk II.

So far, ISRO has relied only on its PSLV rocket (which can lift up to 1.75 tonnes into low Earth orbit) for commercial launches. Adding the GSLV MK3 to this list would mean that India can have more influence in the international market, thereby earning revenue from launching heavier customer satellites. While India’s GSLV Mk3 has successfully completed all four of India’s national missions so far, this will be the first time the rocket will perform a paid service of carrying customer satellites into space.

Around the third week of September, a Ukrainian Antonov-124 transport plane carrying 36 OneWeb satellites flew all the way from Florida, USA to the Indian city of Chennai. The satellites were then transported by road to the Indian spaceport in Sriharikota, southern Andhra Pradesh.

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