ISRO undertakes a major initiative in the satellite launching landscape with its project in February which will see the national space agency launch a record 103 satellites. The satellites will be deployed on a single rocket in the first week of February. S Somnath, Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, ISRO, remarks “A century is being created by undertaking this initiative of launching over 100 satellites at one go.”
Earlier plans from ISRO dictated a launch of 83 satellites towards the last week of January. But, ISRO had to push the dates towards the first week of January, as 20 more satellites were added to the initial tally. There is no specific information yet regarding the number of countries who would be taking part in this launch, however, Germany and US have been in the picture all along.
This mission will gain India competitive advantage in the commercial space market. The launch has been set to take place via ISRO’s workhorse rocket PSLV-C37 from its Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Mr. Somnath adds “100 micro-satellites are scheduled for launch via PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle)-C37. The total payload stands at 1350 kgs, of which 500-600 kgs turns out to be the satellites’ weight.”
Last year, ISRO had launched a record 20 satellites at one go, but this launch marks a significant stride for the nation’s space agency, as no nation has ever undertaken a mission of such scale earlier. The previous record was held by Russia, that launched 37 satellites in one go, back in 2014.
Additionally, the South Asian satellite project initiated under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled for launch in March. The satellite is a part of GSAT-9, and was earlier scheduled to be launched in December 2016. Sources indicate Afghanistan being a part of this project in its final stages.