India breaks new record with 104 satellites on a single rocket launch

15 Feb 2017

PSLV-C37 taking off. Image: ISRO

Earth’s orbit just got a lot more crowded as India’s space agency announced the launch of 104 satellites on a single rocket, breaking all previous payload records.

Sending a rocket into space with satellites and other equipment on board used to be a rare occasion, but in recent years, this number has ‘skyrocketed’ dramatically with the pluralisation of space through various agencies and private companies.

One of those is the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which has surpassed its spacefaring collaborators by launching a total of 104 satellites into orbit aboard a single rocket.

This trebles the previous record payload previously launched by the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which launched 37 satellites.

According to The Economic Times in India, ISRO announced that it had broken all previous payload records with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37).

The cargo included 101 satellites from various international customers, as well as three of India’s latest advanced research satellites.

96 of these were from the US, with the remaining hardware coming from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.

Nation celebrates

The most intriguing satellite is Cartosat-2, which now gives ISRO high resolution imaging of its bordering neighbours of Pakistan and China, down to just one metre.

Also included within the enormous launch were INS-1A and INS-1B, which carried four different scientific payloads from ISRO’s Space Applications Centre, and Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems.

Aside from providing images, Cartosat-2 will also contain a number of sensors for monitoring road networks, costal land use and creating new land maps.

India’s president Pranab Mukherjee and prime minister Narendra Modi welcomed the news, with the latter announcing it on Twitter.

ISRO has been ramping up its efforts in recent years to be a world leader in spacetech, potentially rivalling the likes of NASA.

Last May, the organisation announced that it had successfully tested a new space shuttle, with a design could be used to create a reusable spacecraft for astronauts in the near future.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic