India will launch 68 overseas satellites, of which 12 will be from the United States, under a new deal the Indian Space Research Organisation's commercial arm has bagged. Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman and Managing Director of Antrix Corporation, said, "We got fresh orders to launch 68 satellites from various countries, including 12 from PlanetiQ, a US-based weather forecasting satellite firm." He added that Antrix also got an order to launch a heavier earth observation satellite from an overseas customer, reported IANS. However, he did not divulge further details about the customer.

The new deal includes smaller and nano-satellites with different payloads (instruments) for experiments, data generation, image-capturing and transmitting signals for communications, broadcasting, remote-sensing, earth observation and tracking weather conditions.

Sasibhushan said, "We plan to carry more satellites in a single launch at a time for optimal utilisation of the rocket space and other resources for achieving economies of scale." In June, ISRO launched a record 20 satellites in 26 minutes from Sriharikota. With the help of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, the Indian space agency has so far launched around 74 foreign satellites, several of them from Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and the US.

The state agency will also soon use its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle to place satellites that are two tonnes and above in geostationary orbits. “We are looking for commercial operations of GSLV for which the indigenous cryogenic engines are getting ready to launch more satellites to the geo-orbits,” Sasibhushan told the news agency.