Isro scripted history on Wednesday by launching 20 satellites, including those from the US, Germany, Canada and Indonesia, from its Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota in one go.
The Indian Space Research Organisation used its flagship rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C34 -- standing 44.4 metre tall and weighing 320 tonne -- for the lift-off that was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
20 satellites in a go! @isro continues to break new barriers. Hearty congratulations to our scientists on the monumental accomplishment.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 22, 2016
“Our space programme has time and again shown the transformative potential of science & technology in people’s lives,” he posted after the rocket tore into the morning skies at 9.26 am with a growl breaking free of the earth’s gravitational pull.
“Over the years we developed expertise & capability to help other nations in their space initiatives. This is the skill of our scientists.”
The 20 satellites weighed 1,288kg. The rocket’s main cargo is India’s 725.5kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation. This satellite is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B.
The other 19 satellites weighing around 560 kg are from the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia as well as one satellite each from Chennai’s Sathyabama University and College of Engineering, Pune. The whole launch mission was over in around 26 minutes.
Isro chairperson AS Kiran Kumar congratulated his team on the successful launch ‘in record time’ and said “PSLV C-34 has done its job”.
“We have the current generation of earth observation satellite of Cartosat 2 series,” he said, and added the space agency had done a “wonderful job”.
The images sent by Cartosat satellite will be useful for cartographic, urban, rural, coastal land use, water distribution and other applications.
The 110kg SkySat Gen2-1 belonging to Terra Bella, a Google company, is a small earth-imaging satellite capable of capturing sub-metre resolution imagery and high definition video, Isro said.
The Planet Lab’s Dove Satellites are also earth-imaging satellites. A total of 12 Dove satellites each weighing 4.7kg are carried in this mission inside three QuadPack dispensers, the space agency said.
The PSLV rocket also carriedf 85kg M3MSat from Canada. The technology-demonstration mission was jointly funded and managed by Defence Research and Development Canada and the Canadian Space Agency.
The other foreign satellites on board were: 120 kg LAPSN-A3 of Indonesia, the 130 kg BIROS, from German Aerospace Centre, and the 25.5 kg GHGSat-D, Canada.
The 1.5 kg Sathyabamasat from Sathyabama University will collect data on green house gases while the 1kg Swayam satellite from College of Engineering, Pune will provide point-to-point messaging services to the HAM radio community.
In 2008, the Isro had launched 10 satellites with the PSLV rocket. Till date India has launched 57 foreign satellites successfully.