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India packs 104 satellites in a launch, makes history

The PSLV-C37 carried 104 satellites © ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) made history today (15 Februray 2017) when it launched a record 104 satellites in a single rocket. This is the largest such launch anywhere in the world, the closest second being the 2014 launch of 37 satellites together by the Russian Space Agency.

Bettering its own 2015 record of 23 satellites in one rocket, ISRO's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) took off from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh with three Indian and 101 foreign satellites.

The PSLV-C37 carried a main satellite 'Cartosat-2' for earth observation weighing 714 kilogram and 103 smaller 'nano satellites' together weighing 664 kilograms. 96 of the nano satellites are from the US alone and the rest from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and US, ISRO sources said.

Effusively, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: "This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation."

ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar said the idea was not to break records but to maximise India's capability and optimise returns from each launch. ISRO has been making news with its frugal launches and its growing prowess as a key international player in the private space market.

Director of the mission B. Jayakumar said it was a challenge to accommodate all the satellites on the PSLV and ISRO had to design a “unique separation sequence” to take care of the large number.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/nindia.2017.35

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