Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Wednesday morning lifted off successfully with a record 104 satellites, including the country’s earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series.
The PSLV-XL variant rocket standing 44.4 metre tall and weighing 320 tonne tore into the morning skies at 9.28 a.m. with a deep throated growl breaking free of the earth’s gravitational pull.
The co-passenger satellites comprise 101 nanosatellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the UAE and 96 from the US, as well as two nano satellites from India.
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The total weight of all the satellites carried on-board is about 1,378 kg.
The PSLV rocket is a four stage/engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively.
“The Cartosat satellite is the fourth one in the Cartosat-2 series of earth observation satellites. Already three are in the orbit and two more will be launched. Once all the six Cartosat-2 series satellites are launched the Cartosat-3 series would begin,” an ISRO official told IANS preferring anonymity.
As the scientists at the Mission Control centre broke into cheers, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A S Kiran Kumar announced: “All 104 satellites
successfully placed in orbit. My hearty congratulations to the entire ISRO team for the wonderful job they have done.”
Post the feat, PM Modi hailed the ISRO team for the successful launch of 104 satellites on board a single rocket and termed it as a remarkable feat that has made India proud.
In today’s complex mission after the end of 28-hour countdown, the PSLV-C37 injected the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite followed by ISRO’s nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B in an 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
This was followed by launch of the other 101 nano satellites of overseas customers in blocks in a series of separations.
INS-1A and INS-1B will carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments, ISRO said.
Cartosat-2 series satellite, with a mission life of five years, will send images that would cater to coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water, creation of land use maps among others.
The nano-satellites belonging to international customers are being launched as part of the arrangement between international customers and Antrix Corporation Ltd (ANTRIX) the commercial arm of ISRO.
Kiran Kumar also said that ISRO was enabling the MARS Orbiter Mission to survive a long eclipse duration after which it would function for at least 2-3 years unless “we encounter any more difficulties”.
“Now we are targeting GSLV MkII and then Mk III…a series of launch activities planned to ensure like last year this year also we have many exciting events coming,” he added.
PSLV-C37 Project Director B Jayakumar said it was a “great moment for each and everyone of us. It is confirmed all 104 satellites have been successfully deployed in the orbit.
So far ISRO has launched 226 satellites out of which 179 are from foreign nations.”
He said launching 104 satellites onboard a single rocket was a complex mission. “But our teams came up with very good solutions. The integration part are also done very well by our team. it is enjoyable mission and excellent team work..”
Satish Dhawan Space Centre Director P Kunhi Krishnan said the launch clearly reiterated ISRO’s capability in handling complex missions very professionally.
ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Director K Sivan said it was a matter of national pride that the country had launched 104 satellites in one go using PSLV.
“It is one of the toughest missions we have handled,” he added.