Adding to their bag of achievements and records, India’s space agency, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), is all set to launch 104 satellites into SSO (Space Shuttle Orbit) on February 15, 2017. The launch is expected to be a new world record when it comes to the number of satellites sent into orbit in a single flight. The record for the same is presently held by Russia’s Dnepr which launched 37 satellites into space in the month of June, 2014.
ISRO’s commercial branch ‘Antrix Corporation’ has scheduled the launch for 9 am through a PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) C37 from SDSC (Satish Dhawan Space Centre) located in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
The PSLV will carry India’s remote-sensing satellite Cartosat-2 and two nano satellites (INS-1A & INS-1B) for ISRO, while 101 other small foreign commercial satellites.
Notably, San Francisco based American Earth imaging private company, Plant Lab has made a bulk bookings for 88 of its small specialised satellites, called Doves, which is another record for the most number of satellites launched by a single corporation.
The other customers investing in with their satellites to co-ride with the aforementioned will be from Belgium, Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, and the UAE.
The Director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion System Centre, Mr S Somnath, stated that the payload is approximated to weigh around 1500 kgs, of which 500-600 kgs will be the weight of the Indian satellite.
Following the success of the most economical mission to the moon, ISRO is trying to benefit from its cost-effective satellite launches.
Reportedly, the Indian space agency charges a reasonable sum of about 30 million dollars for a launch which is a fraction of the price charged by other agencies. This is the prime reason for the foreign companies to opt for Indian launch vehicles for sending their satellites into the orbital space.
With a launch of over 100 satellites in a single go, ISRO hopes to get enough publicity to eventually get an even larger chunk of the estimated $5.4 billion lucrative satellite launch market.
According to the Director of SDSC, Mr P Kunhi Krishnan, ISRO is gearing up to launch 4 missions in the early half of 2017, which includes the PSLV with its 104 satellites on board, GSLV-Mk III-D1 developmental flight with 3.2 tonne weighing GSAT-19E in March and two other missions thereafter.