Sunil Bharti Mittal said that ISRO has the great potential to become one of the premier commercial space launch centres in the world. Mittal’s statement came at a media roundtable attended by businessline, commemorating completion of Bharti-backed OneWeb’s low earth orbit satellite constellation.
ISRO’s LVM-3 put 36 OneWeb satellites in orbit on Sunday, completing OneWeb’s LEO constellation, which now has 618 satellites to provide broadband from space around the world.
India provided launch facilities to OneWeb after their satellite launches were indefinitely delayed when the British government cancelled the launch of 36 broadband satellites on the Russian rocket Soyuz in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.
Mittal said: “Today marks a very important day for India, where ISRO and NSIL establish themselves in a very certain manner as a significant player in the commercial space launch industry.” Mittal believes India is one of the top two players in the commercial launch marketplace in the world, and can become a dominant competitor to SpaceX in the space launch industry.
Mittal further added that India still has a critical role to play in OneWeb not just because it has done two critical launches, but in the area of user terminals, the demand will increase if satellite broadband becomes ubiquitous. “India will become the main place to manufacture these terminals, especially as Chinese terminals are unlikely to be accepted in most parts of the world,” said Mittal. Mittal is in discussion with NSIL to see which Indian manufacturers can participate.
Launch of OneWeb services in India needs allocation of satellite spectrum. Mittal reiterated that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India must come up with a space allocation policy that fully capitalises on the benefits of LEO connectivity. Mittal said that OneWeb will have the basic infrastructure to launch its satellite services ready by July, after which it only needs clarity on the allocation of satellite spectrum which it still awaits. Mittal has established two ground stations in India, in partnership with Indus Towers and Nyxtra – which are Airtel backed tower company and data centre business respectively.
OneWeb plans to provide around 1 per cent of its total capacity to India. On the position of India in OneWeb’s global business, as per Mittal– the biggest markets for OneWeb are USA, Canada, Europe then Africa, then India.