ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar speaks during a press conference after the successful launching of a record 104 satellites from the spaceport of Sriharikota on Wednesday
Sriharikota (Nellore): India’s Space Agency ISRO had reached a new and historic milestone by launching 104 satellites precisely using a single rocket in one go. The satellites, from seven countries, were carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and total weight of all the satellites carried on-board PSLV-C37 was 1378 kg.
In its 39th flight, the vehicle successfully launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites which happened to be the thirty eighth consecutively successful mission of PSLV series. The feat conceals the record set by Russia in 2014 when it launched 37 satellites in a single mission. A NASA rocket carried 29 satellites in 2013.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations on the launch that went off smoothly and was carried live on TV channels. “This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation,” PM said, adding: “India salutes our scientists.”
Modi is bullish on India’s space programme and has repeatedly praised the efforts of scientists who three years ago pulled off a low-cost mission to send a probe to orbit Mars that succeeded at the first attempt. The rocket’s main cargo was ISRO’s Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation. The remaining were had a combined weight of 664 kilograms.
Of the other satellites, one each were from Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and 96 from the US. Interestingly, 88 doves were from Planet Labs of San Francisco. Rest of the two nano-satellites belong to ISRO. The PSLV took off at 9.28 am sharply and the ISRO chairman announced success at 10.01 am. ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said this feat was not for creating any record and only for maximising the returns.
ISRO’s low prices attracted international customers to launch 75 satellites last year from Sriharikota. After a flight of 16 minutes 48 seconds, the satellites achieved a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 506 km inclined at an angle of 97.46 degree to the equator and in the succeeding 12 minutes, all the 104 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage and the total number of Indian satellites launched by PSLV now stands at 46.
“This was a very enjoyable mission for us. I congratulate the team members. We faced many challenges before we accomplished this mission,” Kumar said. He attributed the success to the entire team and their supporters saying, “Our team came up with a unique separation system though it has been a complex one. This success indicates capability of the organization and make use of it.”
Mission Director B Jayakumar said it was challenge to accommodate all the satellites in a single flight but they had adopted unique separation sequence releasing one by one of each pack contains four nano-satellites after completing injecting the main satellite, Cartosat-2.
He explained that they had devised a special strategy of releasing the satellites by maintaining different directions for each satellite using advanced XL version. He said including the latest launch, ISRO had put a total of 226 satellites in orbit, including 180 from foreign nations.