Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully placed a total of 104 satellites into orbit on its PSLV-C37 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) launched from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh. ISRO now holds a world record for launching 104 satellites in one go while Russia is on second with 37 satellites launched back in 2014 and NASA stays on third with 29 satellites (2013).
ISRO breaks its own record of launching 20 satellites, launched last year in June, and becomes world’s first space agency to launch 104 record satellites in one shot. It was PSLV’s 39th flight ISRO confirmed the launch on twitter saying- “PSLV-C37 / Cartosat -2 Series Mission Successfully Launched all 104 Satellites”
17 minutes into the flight, PSLV started injecting the satellites into orbit, one by one with a time-frame of 11 minutes. The rocket first injected its main payload Cartosat-2 series.
The launch includes 101 foreign land satellites while remaining three belongs to India. More specifically, 88 satellites are from United States booked by U.S. Earth Imaging company called Planet while the remaining satellites belongs to Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and the UAE (United Arab Emirates).
The three Indian satellites include a remote-sensing Cartosat-2 series satellite and two INS-1 satellites (INS-1A and INS-1B). The remote-sensing satellite will be the fourth in the CARTOSAT-2 series that weighs 650kg. It’s a very high resolution earth observation satellite which will take almost half the space of PSLV-C37 rocket. The other two satellites i.e. INS-1A and INS-1B weighs 20kg combined and have a short lifespan of 6 to 12 months.
The 88 “cubesats” are called Doves (collectively known as Flock 3p) and weighs 5kg each. These 88 cubesats are part of company’s earth observation “line scanner” constellation of 100 satellites. ISRO had launched the remaining 12 cubesats called Doves last year in June. It’s also the highest number of cubesats for the US-based company to be launched in a single rocket.
The 320-tonne PSLV-C37 rocket will release the satellites separately at around 500km above the earth surface into the Sun-synchronous orbit. According to an ISRO official, the payloads weigh around 1,500kg combined.