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Breakthrough Record on One Rocket, ISRO Makes History with the Launch of 104 Satellites

Feb 15, 2017 | Technology | FMI

With its breakthrough launch of 104 satellites, India grabs a big pie piece of the lucrative commercial market of space. In its major and unprecedented feat not attempted by any other country, India launched its observation satellites on a single rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The highly anticipated mission was closely followed by scientists and space mission enthusiasts in different countries. The previous record was held by Russia, which had sent 37 spacecrafts in a single mission. The space mission carried tiny satellites, also known as doves, from a number of countries, including the U.S., Israel, Netherlands, and U.A.E. Of the 104 satellites, San Francisco-based Planet owned 88.  

The launch of PSLV-C37 injected 103 co-passenger satellites along with Cartosat-2 series that weighed 714 Kg, followed by nano satellites INS 1A and INS 1B in a 505 Km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).  Cartosat-2 series satellite, with a mission life of five years, will transmit images that would cater to regulation and use of coastal lands. The satellites will also be used to access information aboutdistribution of water, road network monitoring and creation of maps regarding land use..

Of the 104 satellites launched, 101 were nano satellites of which 96 satellites were from the United States and one satellite each from Kazakhastan, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Israel and Netherlands.

While talks with Afghanistan were in the final stage, the project faced firm opposition from the neighbouring country Pakistan, which eventually backed out of the. Pakistan wanted the project to be launched under the South Asian Regional forum wing. However, launch of the South Asian Satellite will benefit Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

The breakthrough launch was planned for January 2017, however, the addition of nearly 20 more satellites from other countries postponed the launch to February.

This is not the first time that ISRO helmed a space project involving multiple satellites. In 2016, its reputation received a boost when it launched nearly 20 satellites in one go. Space research organisations around the globe were confident on ISRO’s technical abilities, and this led to their participation in this historic project.

The South Asian Satellite will be a part of GSAT -9 project as stated by the associate director of ISRO, M Nageshwara Rao. This high-stake mission had the entire country tuning in, as it was broadcasted live on the state-owned national television. President of India, Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO on this achievement.