India sets launch record by sending 104 spacecraft to orbit at once
Image credit: Reuters
India has launched 104 satellites into orbit in one go aboard its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), setting a world record for the number of spacecraft delivered into space by a single launcher.
The feat is a major milestone for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which hopes to become a major player in the global space launch market.
“This is a great moment for each and everyone of us,” ISRO project director B Jayakumar commented on the launch of the PSLV-C37 mission. “Today we have created history.”
India’s remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 was the main payload of PSLV-C37, with 101 nanosatellites of foreign customers from the USA, Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates hitching a ride aboard the launcher.
The USA, with 96 satellites, was the biggest customer.
“This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation,” said India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “India salutes our scientists.”
India’s strength is the low cost for which it is able to deliver its projects. In September 2014, the nation’s first ever Martian orbiter reached the Red Planet, making India the first country in history to succeed in the endeavour at the first attempt.
The Mangalyaan orbiter’s mission cost $73m, ten times less than Nasa’s MAVEN spacecraft, which reached Martian orbit at around the same time.
ISRO bets on the low-cost approach also with its commercial launches, hoping to grab a larger share of the global satellite launch market, worth $300bn.
Last year, ISRO launched 75 satellites for international customers from its spaceport in Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.