The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set a new record in space mission achievements after it successfully launched 104 satellites in one go from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on Wednesday morning.
This was ISRO’s first space mission for the year 2017, and the most complicated mission it has ever carried out. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated the space agency for the historic event that significantly boosts India’s space programme.
The space agency began the countdown for the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)’s 39th flight on Tuesday after the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board gave its approval for lift off, ISRO said.
The PSLV-C37/Cartosat2 Series satellite mission included the primary satellite (Cartosat-2) and 101 international nano satellites. It also launched two of its own nano satellites, INS-1A and INS-1B.
PSLV first launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series satellite for earth observation, followed by the INS-1A and INS-1B, after it reached the polar Sun Synchronous Orbit. It then went on to inject 103 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 664 kg, in pairs.
ISRO scientists used the XL Variant – the most powerful rocket – earlier used in the ambitious Chandrayaan and during the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Catch the live updates below:
10:25am: Satellite director Sadananda Rao said solar panels of the Cartosat-2 satellite were deployed, and the command centre in Bengaluru has taken control of it
10:13am: President Pranab Mukherjee congratulates ISRO on its success of setting a new record of most satellites launched into space in one go
This day shall go down as a landmark in the history of our space programme #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) February 15, 2017
I urge ISRO to continue to strive for the progress of our space capabilities #PresidentMukherjee— President of India (@RashtrapatiBhvn) February 15, 2017
10:10am: First mission this year has been a success; getting ready for future missions, including PSLV and GSLV, says ISRO
10:05am: Countdown time was the shortest launch time for PSLV missions. This was the most complicated space mission, says ISRO
10:04am: ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar says Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed his congratulations
This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 15, 2017
Congratulations to @isro for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 15, 2017
10:03am: “This was a very enjoyable mission. I congratulate the team. We faced many challenges before we accomplished this mission,” Kumar says
10:02am: Our team came up with a unique separation system, says Kumar
10:01am: ISRO chariman AS Kiran Kumar announces success
10am: All 104 satellites successfully launched; India makes history
9:57am: Close to half an hour since lift off; flight status normal
9:50am: Plus 22 minutes since lift off; launch normal so far
9:48am: Remaining nano satellites being separated from launch vehicle in pairs
9:47am: Cartosat 2 and India’s nano satellites separated from launch vehicle
9:46am: Engines switched off; PSLV reaches orbit
9:44am: ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar among those at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota watching the record satellite launch
9:41am: PSLV has crossed about 4180 km since it launched
9:39am: Satellite continues to gain altitude; performance so far normal, indicating a successful launch
9:36am: Eight minutes since lift off; PSLV-C37/Cartosat2 Series satellite in fourth stage. Satellite engines switched on
9:33am: Second stage of launch completed successfully; third stage begins
9:32am: Scientists at ISRO says launch going as per plan so far
9:31am: Heat shields separated from the PSLV; second stage going through smoothly
9:30am: Scientists confirm first stage of lift off completed
9:28am: PSLV takes off at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
In Image: Cartosat-2 Series Satellite at the launch centre. pic.twitter.com/coKXH9nzh0— Prasar Bharati (@prasarbharati) February 15, 2017
Why is it significant
The successful launch set a new record for the most number of satellites – 104 – to be launched at one go. It puts a wide margin between it and the next record holder, the Russian Space Agency that launched 37 satellites in 2014.
Earlier, the US space agency Nasa launched 29, while ISRO successfully launched 20 satellites in one go in June 2015.
The PSLV was carrying the 714 kg-Cartosat 2 for earth observation and 103 smaller ‘nano satellites’ which weighed a combined 664 kg. In total, the entire launch carried a satellite mass of about 1,378 kg.
Of the 101 co-passenger satellites, 96 of these belong to USA, and one each are from ISRO’s international customers Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates.
Two of India’s nano satellites -- INS-1A and INS-1B, weighed about 30 kg.
The nano-satellites belonging to international customers were launched through Antrix Corporation Ltd (ANTRIX), the commercial arm of ISRO.
Cartosat-2 Series, the primary satellite, is similar to the earlier four satellites in Cartosat-2 Series.
Cartosat Series and India’s nano satellites
The Cartosat satellites are being launched to provide remote sensing services.Images sent by it will be useful for coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water and creation of land use maps, among others.
The Cartosat-2 Series has a mission life of five years.
The two Indian nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B were developed as co-passenger satellites to accompany bigger satellites on PSLV.
The primary objective of INS (ISRO Nano Satellite) is to provide an opportunity for ISRO technology demonstration payloads, provide a standard bus for launch on demand services.
INS-1A carries Surface Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function Radiometer and INS-1B caries Earth Exosphere Lyman Alpha Analyser as payloads.
(With inputs from agencies)