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Isro leaps into history with launch of 104 satellites in one go

15 February 2017

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) created space history today with the successful launch of 104 satellites in a single launch using its tested workhorse Polar Satellite launch Vehicle (PSLV). 

The PSLV-C37 lifted off successfully in the morning today and placed all 104 satellites, including the country's earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series, in orbit.

The 44.4-metre PSLV-XL rocket weighing 320 tonnes lifted off at 9.28 am.

Isro scientists say that the intention was to maximise payload and vehicle capacity and not the numbers of satellites.  However, the success of the launch, has helped Isro create a new world record and place India among premier spacefaring nations.

''Though the mission was initially planned to carry 83 satellites, the decision was taken to increase the number to 104 as additional space was available,'' The Indian Express quoted Isro chairman AS Kiran Kumar as saying.

Russia held the world record with its 2014 launch of 37 satellites in a single launch using a modified intercontinental ballistic missile. India has bettered that record with nearly thrice that number.

The challenge is now in successfully placing the 104 satellites into separate orbits without any satellite coming in contact with another.

The PSLV C-37 first placed the 714 kg CARTOSAT-2 Series satellite for earth observation and then ejected the two other Indian satellites weighing 30 kg each. The other 101 co-passenger satellites were ejected successively as planned.

Cartostat-2 and the other smaller satellites together weighing about 664 kg at lift-off takes the total payload at liftoff to 1,378 kg.

These will be placed into Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit, about 524 km from Earth clocking the top velocity of 7,602 metres per second.

Among the satellites, 96 belong to the US, one each belongs to Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

The nanosatellites from international customers are being launched as part of the arrangement by Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of the Isro.

The Cartosat-2 Series, which is the primary satellite, will be similar to the four earlier satellites in the same series. Images sent by the satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications. Cartosat-2 Series has a mission life of five years.

The two other satellites of Isro, INS-1A and INS-1B, are technology demonstrators for low-cost modular nano satellites that can be used for payloads by universities and R&D labs and provide a standard bus for launch on demand services.

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