A new space mission record has been set by the Indian Space Research Organisation as it successfully launched 104 satellites aboard a single rocket.
On Wednesday, Feb. 15, ISRO launched the rocket from Sriharikota's Satish Dhawan Space Centre, which is in Andhra Pradesh.
The single rocket ferrying the 104 satellites took off at 9:30 a.m. local time (11 p.m. ET, Feb. 14). This is ISRO's first space mission for the year 2017, and the most complicated one it has ever carried out.
The countdown for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) flight started on Tuesday, Feb. 14, after it was given approval for a lift off. The PSLV-C37 included the Cartosat-2 series, 101 international nano satellites, as well as the INS-1A and INS-1B — two of ISRO's nano satellites.
All the 101 satellites were launched into space within approximately 600 seconds, which means the rocket was traveling at a speed of about 27,000 kph, which is 40 times faster than the average speed of an airplane.
The historic take-off makes India the first country to successfully launch all the 104 satellites at one go.
ISRO also shared a tweet after the successful launch of the PSLV-C37.
— ISRO (@isro) Feb. 15, 2017
About The Mission
The PSLV, India's workhorse rocket, is on its thirty-ninth mission. The Cartosat-2 series is the main satellite which weighs around 1574.1 lbs, but along with the 103 co-passenger satellites, they altogether weigh around 1463.9 lbs.
Out of the co-passenger satellites, 96 are from the United States, and the rest are from ISRO's international customers like the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel and Kazakhstan.
Scientists at the ISRO used the most powerful and heaviest rocket i.e. the XL variant, which was last used during the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and during the Chandrayaan operation.
The Indian Prime Minister expressed his heartiest gratitude on Twitter and also congratulated the team for overcoming all the challenges successfully.
No other country has so far launched 104 satellites from a single rocket at one go, which makes the feat from ISRO so important. The previous record was held by the Russian Space Agency, which launched 37 satellites at one go.
The main reason for the launch of the Cartosat satellite series is to ensure remote sensing services, and the images received from it will be highly beneficial for coastal land use and regulation, monitoring road networks and water distribution.