Space agency ISRO today scripted history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including India’s earth observation satellite, on a single rocket from the spaceport in Sriharikota. This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 blasted off at 9:28 AM from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and first injected Cartosat-2 series satellite into orbit followed by the other 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the U.S, in a gap of about 30 minutes.
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.”
Earlier, the Russian Space Agency had launched 37 satellites in one go. ISRO had earlier launched 23 satellites in a single mission in June 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi 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 satellites, 96 belong to USA, five from international customers of ISRO including Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates. The nano-satellites belonging to international customers are being launched as part of the arrangement between international customers and Antrix Corporation Ltd (ANTRIX) the commercial arm of ISRO.
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. So far ISRO has launched 226 satellites out of which 179 are from foreign nations.”
He said 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..”
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.