The Indians broke a record for the most satellites launched at once which was set by the Russians who launched 37 in one go in 2014.
PSLV-C37 carrying the 104 satellites lifted off from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9.28am. Seventeen minutes later, the rocket started placing the satellites into orbit, one by one with a time-frame of about 11 minutes.
Out of the total 104 satellites placed in orbit, 101 satellites belonged to six foreign countries. They included 96 from the US and one each from Israel, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Kazakhstan.
PSLV first injected its main payload Cartosat- 2 series, India’s indigenously built earth observation satellite. It was followed by two other nanosatellites of Isro —- INS-1A and INS-1B.
Needless to say, the satellites were rather small nanosatellites but getting them all successfully deployed from one lift off was still a significant feat.
Mission director B Jayakumar said the launch involved complex issues in management and maneuvering to ensure nothing collided.
Director, Isro Satellite Centre Mayilsamy Annadurai said, “We can also hit centuries like our cricketers. In another two months, the number of satellites built by Isro will reach 100. Besides GSLV missions, we have get Chandrayan – 2 ready for launch next year.”
Among the foreign satellites, 88 cube satellites belonged to San Francisco-based earth imaging startup Planet. With the launch, the company has increased its fleet to 143 satellites which will soon begin capturing images of the earth’s entire landmass, including India, every day.
Eight other satellites belonging to Spire Global, US, will provide services for vessel tracking and weather measurement.