India’s Space Odyssey: ISRO’s LVM3 Rocket Launches 36 Satellites into Orbit

On Sunday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its largest launch vehicle, the Mark-III (LVM3) rocket, carrying 36 satellites including the OneWeb India-2 mission. The launch took place at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre located in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The GSLV MkIII is a three-stage rocket consisting of two solid strap-on motors (S200), a liquid core stage (L110), and a high-thrust cryogenic upper stage (C25). The S200 solid motor is one of the largest solid boosters in the world, with 204 tonnes of solid propellant.

The liquid L110 stage uses twin liquid engines with 115 tonnes of liquid propellant, while the C25 Cryogenic upper stage has a fully indigenous high-thrust cryogenic engine (CE20) with a propellant loading of 28 tons.

The rocket is 43.5 meters long and has a gross lift-off weight of 640 tonnes, with a 5-meter diameter payload fairing. The GSLV Mk-III (LVM3) is a new heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) to cost-effectively launch spacecraft weighing up to 4000 kg into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

The vehicle is a three-stage launch vehicle consisting of two solid propellant S200 strap-ons and a core stage comprising of the L110 liquid stage, C25 cryogenic stage, equipment bay (EB), and Encapsulated Assembly (EA), which includes the spacecraft, Payload Adaptor (PLA), and Payload fairing (PF).

With a lift-off mass of 640 tons and a height of 43.5 m, the GSLV Mk-III provides ISRO with full self-reliance in launching heavier communication satellites into GTO. The vehicle takes off with the simultaneous ignition of the two S200 boosters, and the core stage (L110) is ignited at about 113 seconds into the flight, during the firing of the S200 stages.

The S200 boosters burn for approximately 134 seconds before separation at 137 seconds. The payload fairing is separated at an altitude of 115 km and about 217 seconds into the L110 firing. The L110 burnout and separation and C25 ignition occur at 313 seconds. The spacecraft is then injected into a GTO orbit of 180×36000 km at a nominal time of 974 seconds.

On Sunday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched OneWeb India-2 Mission with 36 satellites onboard from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

OneWeb, which has Bharti Enterprises as a major investor, will complete the first generation of the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellation with its 18th launch and third this year. This marks ISRO’s second successful launch this year after the SSLV-D2/EOS07 mission in February.

The LVM3 rocket, previously known as Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII (GSLVMkIII), has completed its sixth overall flight, with five consecutive missions including the Chandrayaan-2.

OneWeb considers the addition of 36 satellites to the OneWeb fleet and the completion of the first-ever global LEO constellation a significant milestone, with only the ‘pivotal’ mission of OneWeb Launch 18 remaining.

The company also plans to roll out global services in 2023, with 616 satellites in orbit after the launch of another 36 satellites during the OneWeb Launch 18 mission.

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