On Wednesday, the Indian Space Research Organization added a significant notch to its belt. By successfully launching the PSLV-C37, ISRO has pushed a whopping 104 satellites into orbit, a new world record. The previous word record was held by the Russians, for launching a paltry 37 satellites into space. ISRO has a glorious history of achievements that helped propel not just India into the Space Age, but also push others globally to aim higher and further. In celebration of today’s achievement, here is a list of ISRO’s achievements that make it stand apart from everyone else
WATCH VIDEO | ”Selfie” Footage Released By ISRO Of What Happened After PSLV-C37 Rocket Launch
Incredible 104 Satellite Launch
ISRO today successfully launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C37 into orbit. The rocket launched 104 satellites of which three are Indian, 88 are from the USA and the rest from Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates. The previous record was held by Russia’s Dnepr rocket which launched 37 satellites into space, but India’s achievement today overshoots that by a long margin.
Big Achievements, Small Costs
The PSLV-C37 cost a measly $15 million to launch. In comparison, it costs SpaceX roughly $60 million to do the same. NASA used to spend north of $100 million to send satellites into space, a cost so high that they found SpaceX to be a far lucrative offer. India, of all the space-capable nations, has the lowest cost for sending satellites into space.
ISRO’s other major achievement was the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or the Mangalyaan mission as it was fondly called. The Mars Orbiter was launched in November 2013, was India’s first inter-planetary mission and cost the nation just $73 million (Rs. 450 crore). It was also the least expensive mission to Mars ever. In comparison, NASA’s MAVEN Mars Orbiter cost $672 million.
WATCH VIDEO | Why Is ISRO’s PSLV-C37 Rocket Launch With Record 104 Satellites Important?
Made in India, Designed for the World
India is a nation known for keeping its costs low. Currently, the PSLV launched 104 satellites into space for a cost of $15 million. It should be noted that the PSLV is not a reusable rocket. While SpaceX still struggle to get their Falcon 9 rockets to land reliably after re-entry, ISRO has already successfully tested the Reusable satellite Launch Vehicle (RLV) in 2016. While ISRO already offers incredibly lucrative pricing for satellite launches, successfully deploying a reusable flight system would bring down costs even further.
Failure is not an option
The PSLV system has been used 39 times for launching payload into Low Earth Orbit. Of these 39 launches, ISRO has suffered only one true failure, the maiden flight of the PSLV rocket in 1993. The 1997 launch was considered a partial failure because the rocket failed to launch the satellite into the desired circular orbit. However, the satellite could propel itself into orbit and was not lost. SpaceX has suffered two notable failures, one of the CRS-7 139 seconds into flight and the more recent explosion of the AMOS-6 while it was on the Launchpad, being loaded with propellant. Both the failures came with a significant cost to not just SpaceX, but the companies whose payload was being launched into orbit. India’s ISRO has an edge over the competitors when it comes to safety and consistency. In case you didn’t know, the Mars Orbiter Mission was the first time India attempted an inter-planetary mission and nailed it in its first attempt.
At the Vanguard of the Space Age
India’s space program isn’t just about launching satellites into space. The Space Agency has lofty goals in-line with the global leaders; exploration of our solar system being one among them. ISRO is currently working on sending a probe to Venus, the second planet, and possibly the most hostile, in our solar system. In fact, ISRO has a mission to Mars and Venus slated for 2021-2022 time frame. While France has expressed strong interest in collaborating on building the next Mars Rover for India’s mission to Mars, Michael M. Watkins, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, said that the agency was keen on putting a telematics module which would enable NASA’s rover to talk to India’s satellites. Watkins further said that NASA would definitely be willing to partner in India’s maiden voyage to Venus as so little is known about the planet. NASA and ISRO have already initiated talks on trying to jointly undertake studies on using electrical propulsion for powering this mission. Former ISRO chairman K. Kasturirangan says, “India should be part of this global adventure and exploring Venus and Mars is very worthwhile since humans definitely need another habitation beyond Earth.”
The Indian Space Research Organization has been making great strides in the last few years. While NASA has seen significant budget cuts in the last few years, ISRO just received a boost in funding thanks to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley giving the Department of Space a 23% increase in operating budget this year. We wish ISRO the very best for its upcoming launches and the Mission to Mars and Venus.