The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) created history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites in single mission. These satellites were launched on board of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37, on its 39th mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
“The countdown for the launch of PSLV-C37/Cartosat2 Series satellite mission began at 5:28 AM soon after the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board gave its approval for lift off,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. ISRO scientists have used the XL Variant — the most powerful rocket — earlier used in the ambitious Chandrayaan and during the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Of the total 104 satellites, three were Indian and remaining 101 belonged to international customers. India’s three satellites included earth-mapping Cartosat-2 satellite (main payload) and nanosatellites INS-1A and INS-1B. Of the total 101 Foreign Satellites, 96 belong to US and remaining 5 from Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, respectively. Two other Indian nano satellites, weighing about 1,378 kg (combined), have also been launched. The primary objective of INS (ISRO Nano Satellite) is to provide an opportunity for ISRO technology demonstration payloads, provide a standard bus for launch on demand services.
Importantly, this mission beat the previous record held by Russia, which in 2014 had catapulted 37 satellites in a single launch, using a modified inter-continental ballistic missile. It also broke ISRO’s previous national record set in June 2015, after it had successfully launched 23 satellites, including 13 from the US in single mission.
For this mission, ISRO had used XL Variant of PSLV rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 tonnes. It is most powerful rocket of ISRO and earlier was used in launching ambitious Chandrayaan and Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). In this mission, PSLV first launched the Cartosat-2 and then its 103 co-passengers (together weighing about 664 kg) into the polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), about 520 km from the Earth.
The feat has attracted the attention of top leaders from the country, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi he tweeted – “Congratulations to @ISRO for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites!….This remarkable feat by @ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists”.
The Global media has also hailed India after ISRO launches 104 satellites – “Forget the US versus Russia. The real space race is taking place in Asia,” CNN commented. London’s Times newspaper reported that by achieving this feat, India has reinforced its ambition to join the elite space- faring nations. The New York Times said that by sending a flock of 104 satellites into space within minutes, nearly tripling the previous record for single-day satellite launches and establishing India as a “key player” in a growing commercial market for space-based surveillance and communication. “The launch was high-risk because the satellites, released in rapid-fire fashion every few seconds from a single rocket as it traveled at 17,000 miles an hour, could collide with one another in space if ejected into the wrong path,” the paper noted.
UK’s Guardian newspaper, commented that the record-breaking space launch will help India to cement its place as a serious player in the burgeoning private space market. “India, which became just the sixth nation to launch its own rocket in 1980, has long made space research a priority. The Indian government has increased the budget for its space programme this year and also announced plans to send a mission to Venus,” the British paper said. The BBC, quoting observers, said today’s space success was a “sign that India is emerging as a major player in the multi-billion dollar space market…. The successful launch is yet another feather in the cap of India’s ambitious space programme that has earned a reputation of offering a reliable low cost alternative to existing international players”, says the British public bro adcaster.
China’s state-run media took note of India’s success in the space sector. “India created history by successfully launching 104 satellites in a single space mission, breaking the previous record of 37 satellites launched by Russia in 2014, Xinhua news agency reported.
Over the past two decades, India has successfully become a key player in the lucrative commercial space market offering low-cost alternatives. ISRO vision is to “harness space technology for national development”, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration and such remarkable feats not only makes history, but also makes the country very Proud.