Image Credit: ISRO
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch a record 103 satellites — all but three of them foreign — at one go on a single rocket in the first week of February in what will be a major feat not attempted by any country.
As India looks to grab a larger slice of the lucrative commercial space market, 100 of the 103 satellites set for launch by ISRO’s workhorse rocket PSLV-C37 in February from from its Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh belong to foreign nations, including the US and Germany.
“We are making a century by launching over 100 satellites at one go,” S. Somnath, Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre of ISRO, told a plenary session on the second day of the ongoing Indian Science Congress here today.
The space agency had earlier planned a launch of 83 satellites in the last week of January, of which 80 were foreign ones. But with the addition of 20 more foreign satellites, the launch was delayed by a week and will now take place in first week of February, Somnath said.
“These will be 100 micro-small satellites, which will be launched using a PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle)-C37. The weight of the payload will be 1350 kgs, of which 500-600 kgs will be the satellite’s weight,” Mr. Somnath added.
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The launch will be a major feat in country’s space history as no exercise on this scale has been attempted before.
Last June, ISRO launched record 20 satellites at one go. The highest number of satellites launched in a single mission is 37, a record that Russia set in 2014. The US space agency NASA launched 29.
In May, it successfully launched its first mini space shuttle as it joined the global race to make reusable rockets.It sent an unmanned rocket to orbit Mars in 2013 at a cost of just $73 million, compared with NASA’s Maven Mars mission which had a $671 million price tag.
“We are looking at other planets that we can explore… two of them are Jupiter and Venus,” M. Nageswara Rao, an associate director at ISRO, said Wednesday, adding “it may take few years from now”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often hailed India’s budget space technology, quipping in 2014 that a rocket that launched four foreign satellites into orbit had cost less to make than Hollywood film “Gravity”.
The communication satellite was to be launched in December 2016, but was slightly delayed as some other satellites are to be launched before that.