The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will create a new record of launching 20 satellites, including those from the US, Germany, Canada and Indonesia, on Wednesday from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-34 (PSLV) will carry India’s latest earth observation Cartosat-2 Series satellite along with 19 co-passenger satellites including those made by Indian students and belonging to foreign vendors.
The 48-hour countdown activity for the launch started on Monday morning and Isro said it is progressing smoothly.
Here are 10 things you should know about Wednesday’s historic launch.
1. Biggest ever single launch
Though Isro has been placing multiple satellites into the orbit in a single launch for the last few years, Wednesday’s event will be the biggest ever embarked by the space agency in terms of the number of satellites. With 20 satellites, the agency will beat its previous record of placing 10 satellites in April 2008.
Russia holds the world record for placing the most number of satellites in a single launch. Its Dnepr rocket launched 37 satellites in 2014.
2. Reliable workhorse
PSLV C-34, which will carry the satellites, is one of the most reliable launch vehicles in the world. Since its first launch in 1993, it has carried out 35 successful launches. It has launched a number of Indian satellites and 35 satellites for customers from abroad.
This launch vehicle has also successfully put India’s first spacecraft mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-1, into the orbit in 2008 as well as the country’s first interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft or Mangalyaan in 2014.
3. Primary satellite
The primary satellite in this mission is the Cartosat-2 series satellite. The images sent by satellite will be used for cartographic (for drawing maps) applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring and water distribution.
They will also used for the creation of land use maps, precision study, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications.
4. Foreign co-passengers
Isro will also launch co-passenger satellites from the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia. The foreign satellites are LAPAN-A3 from Indonesia, Brios from Germany, M3MSat and GHSSat-D from Canada, SkySat Gen 2-1 and 12 Dove satellites from the United States.
5. Google satellite
Among the foreign satellites, a Google satellite called SkySat Gen2-1 will also be set into space. SkySat Gen2-1 is a small Earth imaging satellite designed and built by Terra Bella, a Google company.
The satellite weighing 110 kg will be capable of capturing sub-meter resolution imagery and HD video.
6. Dove satellites
A total of 12 Dove satellites will also be carried inside three QuadPack dispensers in this mission. Each satellite weighs around 4.7 kg. The Dove satellites (Flock-2 P) are earth imaging satellite and are developed by US-based Planet Labs, which operates the largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites.
7. Student satellites
Two satellites - Satyabhama Sat and Swayam - designed and developed by the students of Sathyabama University, Chennai and Pune’s College of Engineering will also be part of this historic launch.
While Satyabhama Sat’s objective is to collect data on greenhouse gases, the Swayam satellites will provide point to point messaging services to the HAM community.
8. Heaviest and lightest
The payload or the total weight of all the 20 satellites carried onboard the launch vehicle is about 1,288 kg.
Weighing 727.5 kg, the Cartosat-2 series satellite is the heaviest among the 20 satellites and the lightest is the Swayam that weighs just 1 kg.
9. 20 launches in 26 minutes
Isro has planned to carry out the launch at 9.25am on Wednesday. The mission will be carried out in 26 minutes and 30 seconds. The first satellite to be separated from the rocket will be the Cartosat-2 Series satellite and the last will the twelfth Dove satellite.
10. Why India?
India is fast emerging as the leading destination among space-faring nations to launch satellites. Isro has so far launched 57 satellites for foreign space agencies and vendors from 20 countries.
Reports say that Isro charges 10 times less than other space agencies for launching satellites.