The Indian Space Research Organisation has begun the 48-hour countdown for the launch of a record 20 satellites in a single mission on 22 June from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C34 will be used to carry the satellites, including India's earth observation spacecraft Cartosat-2, from the second launch pad of the space centre at 9.26am on June 22.
The SLV-C34 will launch 19 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 560kg at lift-off into a 505km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Isro said the total weight of all the 20 satellites carried on board PSLV-C34 is about 1,288 kg. The whole mission will get over in around 26 minutes.
The 'co-passengers' include satellites from the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia as well as two satellites from Indian Universities.
The images sent by Cartosat satellite will be useful for cartographic, urban, rural, coastal land use, water distribution and other applications. The 1.5 kg Sathyabamasat from Sathyabama University will collect data on green house gases while the 1 kg Swayam satellite from College of Engineering, Pune will provide point-to-point messaging services to the HAM radio community.
The mission would carry LAPAN A3 of Indonesia, BIROS and MVV of Germany, SKYSAT GEN 2-1 of the US, among the micro satellites, Isro sources had earlier said.
The space agency had earlier sent 10 satellites into orbit in a single mission in 2008.
ISRO holds 100 per cent success rate in launching the foreign satellites. Already, the national space agency has put in orbit close to 60 satellites of foreign origin using PSLV.
Though the PSLV was designed to launch Indian remote sensing satellites into polar sun synchronous orbit, the vehicle has repeatedly proved its reliability and versatility by successfully launching satellites into a variety of orbits including polar Sun Synchronous, Geosynchronous Transfer and Low Earth orbits of small inclination, thereby repeatedly proving the robustness of its design.
The outlook for commercial launches is promising for ISRO/Antrix with many other proposals from international customers under active discussion and consideration.