New Delhi: Indian space agency ISRO on Wednesday morning scripted history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including country’s Cartosat-2 earth observation satellite, in a single mission from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Exactly at 9:28 am, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 carrying 104 satellites blasted off from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
About 28 minutes into the flight, PSLV first injected Cartosat-2 series satellite into orbit, followed by the other 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the US, in a gap of about 30 minutes.
This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission.
As the scientists at the Mission Control centre broke into cheers, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A S Kiran Kumar announced: “All 104 satellites successfully placed in orbit. My hearty congratulations to the entire ISRO team for the wonderful job they have done.”
ISRO’s new feat beat superpowers like Russia, which had launched 37 satellites in one go in 2014, and the US, which orbited 29 satellites in 2013.
Last year, ISRO had sucessfully launched 23 satellites in a single mission in June.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated team ISRO for the successful launch.
In today’s complex mission after the end of 28-hour countdown, the PSLV-C37 injected the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite followed by ISRO’s nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B in an 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
This was followed by launch of the other 101 nano satellites of overseas customers in blocks in a series of separations.
INS-1A and INS-1B will carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments, ISRO said
Cartosat-2 series satellite, with a mission life of five years, will send images that would cater to coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water, creation of land use maps among others.
Of the 101 co-passenger foreign satellites, 96 belong to USA, five from international customers of ISRO including Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates.
Kiran Kumar also said that ISRO was enabling the MARS Orbiter Mission to survive a long eclipse duration after which it would function for at least 2-3 years unless “we encounter any more difficulties”.
“Now we are targeting GSLV MkII and then Mk III…A series of launch activities planned to ensure like last year this year also we have many exciting events coming,” he added.
PSLV-C37 Project Director B Jayakumar said it was a “great moment for each and everyone of us. It is confirmed all 104 satellites have been successfully deployed in the orbit.
“Launching 104 satellites onboard a single rocket was a complex mission. “But our teams came up with very good solutions. The integration part are also done very well by our team. It is enjoyable mission and excellent team work,” he said.
Satish Dhawan Space Centre Director P Kunhi Krishnan said the launch clearly reiterated ISRO’s capability in handling complex missions very professionally.
ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Director K Sivan said it was a matter of national pride that the country had launched 104 satellites in one go using PSLV.
“It is one of the toughest missions we have handled,” he added.
So far the Indian space agency has launched 226 satellites, out of which 179 are from foreign nations.