Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO today created a world record in the space arena by sending 104 satellites in a single rocket.
The space agency's trusted workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37, on its 39th mission, took off in the morning, at 9.28 am, today, from Sriharikota space centre with the 104 satellites, of which 101 belongs to international customers.
"This is a significant step for India. This entire launch will last for 28 minutes...It is a four stage mission. The first satellite will go in the 17 th minute followed soon by two nano satellites by India. Later 96 satellites will be placed in their orbits," said Ajay Lele of ISRO.
The first to be let off was India's high resolution Cartosat-2 series satellite made especially to monitor activities of India's hostile neighbours at a resolution of less than a metre keeping a bird's eye view on both Pakistan and China.
The two Indian nano-satellites are ISRO's INS-1A and INS-1B. INS-1A and INS-1B which carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments.
The launch was closely watched by ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar and other top scientists from the mission control centre at Sriharikota.
The countdown for the launch of PSLV-C37/Cartosat2 Series satellite mission began at 5:28 AM yesterday soon after the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board gave its approval for lift off, after which scientists commenced filling of the propellant for the rocket, ISRO said.
The PSLV-XL variant rocket, standing 44.4 metre tall and weighing 320 ton, tore into the morning skies at 9.28 a.m. with a deep throated growl breaking free of the earth's gravitational pull.
What is significant about the launch is the number of satellites carried by a rocket. Compared to successful launch by the Russian Space Agency launching 37 satellites in one go, India became the first country to script history by launching 104 satellites in a single rocket.
It was a significant achievement for ISRO as last time it had launched 23 satellites in one go in June 2015.
PSLV first launched the 714 kg CARTOSAT-2 Series satellite for earth observation, followed by 103 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 664 kg at lift-off into polar Sun Synchronous Orbit, about 520 km from Earth.
ISRO scientists have used the XL Variant -- the most powerful rocket -- earlier used in the ambitious Chandrayaan and during the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
Of 101 co-passenger satellites, 96 belong to USA, five from International customers of ISRO -- Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, respectively.
Two other Indian nano satellites, totally weighing about 1,378 kg, will also ride piggyback in the rocket
The nano-satellites belonging to international customers are being launched as part of the arrangement by Antrix Corporation Ltd (ANTRIX) the commercial arm of the ISRO.
Cartosat-2 Series, which is the primary satellite, will be similar to the earlier four satellites in Cartosat-2 Series.
After coming into operation, it will provide remote sensing services.Images sent by it will be useful for coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water and creation of land use maps, among others.
Cartosat-2 Series has a mission life of five years.
The two Indian Nano-satellites INS-1A and INS-1B were developed as co-passenger satellites to accompany bigger satellites on PSLV.
The primary objective of INS (ISRO Nano Satellite) is to provide an opportunity for ISRO technology demonstration payloads, provide a standard bus for launch on demand services.
INS-1A carries Surface Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function Radiometer and INS-1B caries Earth Exosphere Lyman Alpha Analyser as payloads.