Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal on Monday said the “space race” had truly begun and the private sector should ensure that India remained on the cutting edge of the space industry.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Indian Space Association, Mr. Mittal added that Bharti-backed OneWeb, which already had 322 satellites in orbit, will use India-built PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the heavier GSLV-MkIII (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) as potential platforms to launch OneWeb’s satellites in India from 2022.
“I have been associated with this industry for nearly a year and a half now and I can say with a great deal of certainty where the space race has truly begun, and this race is getting accelerated every day…we are seeing that very very large powerful countries along with private sector are moving their agenda at a very fast pace,” said Mr. Mittal, who is also chairman at OneWeb.
Welcoming the ‘timely step’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in moving the Indian space agenda to a ‘very different level’, Mr. Mittal added that it was time for the private sector now to take advantage and ensure that India remained on the cutting edge of the space industry. “New technologies, R&D where billions of dollars are being spent, are upending the old technologies. It is therefore time for us to move. In the next three to five years, the space industry will dramatically alter.”
He further added that OneWeb had entered into an arrangement through Letter of Intent with NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to use PSLV and the GSLV-MkIII as potential platforms to launch OneWeb’s satellites in India from 2022.
OneWeb is building its initial constellation of 648 LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites and services will begin this year to the Arctic region including Alaska, Canada, and the U.K. By late 2022, OneWeb plans to offer its high-speed, low-latency connectivity services in India and the rest of the world.
“OneWeb and NSIL will expeditiously convert the Letter of Intent into a binding agreement after obtaining all necessary approvals from their respective boards,” the company said in a statement.