The Indian Space Research Organisation launched a world record 104 satellites from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 9.30 am on Wednesday. The space agency’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C37 is carrying a payload of 103 nano-satellites from India and five other countries – Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, United States and Switzerland – and an indigenous Cartostat-2, which is an Earth observation instrument, Hindustan Times reported.
The record for the most satellites ever launched at the same time is 37, which was done by Russia in 2014. Eighty-eight of the satellites are of one company’s, which will map the whole surface of the planet in extremely high resolution.
The 28-hour-long countdown for the PSLV’s launch began at 5.28 am on Tuesday after the Mission Readiness Review Committee and the Launch Authorisation Board gave its approval, Isro said, according to PTI. The PSLV first launched the 714 kg Cartostat-2 satellite before deploying the remaining 103 nano-satellites, which weigh around 664 kg at liftoff.
Mission Director B Jayakumar said the focus of the launch was to “utilise the excess capacity available on the PSLV”, which has an overall payload capacity of 1500 kg. The launch will also allow Isro to test its capabilities for the deployment of micro- and nano-satellites, the market for which is expected to grow to $3 billion (approximately Rs 20,072.85 crore) in the next three years.
In August 2016, Isro’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, signed a deal to launch 68 overseas satellites including 12 from the United States. The deal included nano-satellites, which carry different instruments for experiments, data generation, image-capturing and transmitting signals for communications, broadcasting, remote-sensing, earth observation and tracking weather conditions.