India fires 20 satellites into the sky as space delivery business booms

22 Jun 2016

India successfully launched 20 satellites into space yesterday (21 June), as it looks to provide a low-cost alternative to customers looking towards the skies.

Yesterday, the Indian Space Research Organisation sent 20 satellites – including some from the US and Canada – into orbit about 30 minutes after a Polar Satellite Vehicle took off from the barrier island of Sriharikota.

That’s in the Andhra Pradesh state of India, home to a burgeoning tech population and soon to house India’s first built-from-scratch smart city.

A new dawn

The quick turnaround, and relatively cheap cost, acted as a marketing tool for the group, with more businesses looking to send their wares into space nowadays, but not enough avenues available for them.

Telecoms companies are growing ever more reliant on satellite technology, with the desire to see their own device in orbit only natural. However, getting it there isn’t easy. There are a handful of organisations with the capabilities to send satellites up, and a queue (and cost) to get there.

So, India’s introduction into the game could be crucial.

Reducing costs and adding options are two primary desires for companies looking to send devices into orbit. Elon Musk’s SpaceX, for example, has been working on re-landing spacecraft that send satellites into space (a dramatic cost-saver).

India has form

Back in 2014, India sent a spacecraft into Mars’ orbit two days after NASA’s Maven spacecraft reached the Red Planet. The difference? Mangalyaan cost 11pc of Maven’s $671m price.

There were more than 200 satellites launched into orbit in 2014, doubling up on 2013’s figures. That number is still rising. Russia sent 37 satellites up in one go in 2014, with NASA sending up 29 in 2013. So, the numbers are impressive for India.

The primary payload for Tuesday’s launch was a satellite called Cartosat-2C, an Earth observation device to provide India’s military with high-resolution optical imagery.

Full details on the satellites sent up in the landmark mission are available here.

Image of India from space via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic