By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh–India on Wednesday created a world record by successfully putting into orbit 104 satellites, including the country’s own Cartosat-2earth observation satellite, in a single mission.
With the launch, ISRO surpassed the 37 satellite launch record set by a Russian rocket on June 19, 2014.
The co-passenger satellites comprised 101 nano satellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UAE and 96 from the US, as well as two nano satellites from India.
The total weight of all the satellites carried on-board is about 1,378 kg.
Multiple satellite launches with a PSLV rocket is not new for ISRO, having launched 20 satellites on June 22, 2016.
“One hundred and four satellites have been put into orbit,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said soon after the launch, congratulating the space agency’s team on its success.
Exactly at 9.28 a.m. the PSLV-XL variant rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 ton tore into the morning skies with fierce orange flames at its tail.
Gathering speed every second, the rocket raced towards the heavens amidst the cheers of the ISRO officials and the media team assembled at the rocket port here.
President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have congratulated ISRO on the success. Science and Technology Minister Harsh has also congratulated ISRO.
At the rocket mission control room, ISRO scientists were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull.
Around 28 minutes into the flight, the rocket completed its birth ‘karma’ slinging all the 104 satellites into their intended orbits as per the scheduled sequence.
The PSLV rocket is a four stage rocket alternatively powered by solid and liquid fuel.
The Cartosat-2 satellite weighs 714 kg and has a mission life of five years.
“The Cartosat satellite is the fourth one in the Cartosat-2 series of earth observation satellites. Already three are in the orbit and two more will be launched. Once all the six Cartosat-2 series satellites are launched the Cartosat-3 series would begin,” an ISRO official told IANS, preferring anonymity.
Out of the total 226 satellites launched by ISRO with its PSLV rocket, 179 satellites were for foreign customers, said Project Director Jayakumar.
According to P. Kunhikrishnan, Director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) three more launch missions are slated this year.
In his congratulatory tweet, the Prime Minister said: “Congratulations to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and Cartosat satellite together with 103 nano satellites.”
The President, in a message to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar, said February 15 would “go down as a landmark” in India’s space programme history.
The Congress chief in a statement said: “India has led the world in space and scientific achievements and this momentous feat by our scientists has once again made the entire nation proud.”
Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said the launch of 104 satellites in a single mission was a glimpse of the potential Indian science holds.
“The whole world now looks at India for touching lives of people with science and technology and it’s philosophy of ‘Vasudeva Kutumbuakam’,” he said.