With the successful launch of 104 satellites from a single rocket on February 15, 2017 at 9:28 AM IST, ISRO has managed to once again prove to the world that no matter what goals are set for it, ISRO manages to blow them all to smithereens.
By effectively managing the launch of 104 satellites in one go, and by one rocket, ISRO has beaten every other space agencies record by a large margin. For comparison, now the second place for most satellites in one go goes to the Russian Space Agency. The Russian Space Agency in 2014 launched 37 satellites, with NASA trailing behind at third with 29 satellites in one go. Also, India beat its own record by more than 5 times the initial one of 20 satellites that it sent in space in June 2015.
The payload was made up of 104 satellites out of which only three were India’s own, and rest came from India’s international customers with 96 of the satellites belonging to the US, and one each from UAE, Switzerland, Netherlands, Kazakhstan, and Israel. The total weight of the payload was about 1,378 kg and hence to make the launch a success, PSLV’s XL variant was used. It is currently India’s most powerful rocket and has a proven success record in the Chandrayaan mission and in the Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM).
After reaching the orbit, the first satellite to be launched by PSLV was Cartosat-2 Series satellite weighing 714 kg, after which it reached the Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit where it launched the rest of the Indian’s satellites, INS-1A and INS-1B(weighing a total of 30 kg). The rest of the foreign satellites, totalling 101 in number, and weighing about 664 kg, were launched in pairs afterwards!
The mission’s primary payload, Cartosat-2 series satellite with a life span of five years, was launched to provide remote sensing services. The primary objective of the satellite is similar to the four previous satellites in Cartosat-2 series and is going to provide us information on the distribution of water, road network monitoring, coastal land usage and regulation as well as on land use maps creation etc, by using images from the satellite.
The two nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B also have their specific payloads with the INS-1A carrying Surface Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function Radiometer and the INS-1B carrying Earth Exosphere Lyman Alpha Analyser as payloads.
After the launch, Prime Minister Modi, as well as President were among the people who tweeted to congratulate ISRO on their majestic feat. ISRO’s chairman A S Kiran Kumar also deemed the launch to be successful while congratulating the team for their attempts to deliver in spite of challenges.
This launch adds another feather to the cap of ISRO and also showcases the work done by Antrix Corporation Ltd. (Antrix), which is the commercial wing of ISRO. With the need for high-end communication systems growing per day, organisations around the world want a piece of their own in the space to ensure business. Antrix is the point of interaction for all these organisations and countries who want to launch their satellites. Backed by ISRO’s impeccable record so far, with cost effective space programmes, Antrix has been doing a great job in its own niche of finding customers and creating a greater share of the launch market for ISRO to handle. And with the current record, the road to ISRO’s future looks clear!