India on Wednesday broke a world record in space with the successful de ployment of 104 satellites in one go. The 104 satellites consisted of three Indian satellites -the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite along with two other Indian satellites -and 101 international co-passengers which were nano and micro satellites.
The mission, which has attracted global interest, lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 9.28 am.The rocket was the advanced version of the four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle called the PSLV-C37.
For Isro, it was a giant leap from 20 to 104. On June 22 2016, it had placed 20 satellites in orbit in a single shot which gave the organisation the confidence to raise the number.In Wednesday’s mission the total weight of all the 104 satellites flown was 1,378 kg.
After the launch both the President and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the premier space organisation. “This remarkable feat by Isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation.India salutes our scientists,” said Modi while congratulating Kumar over phone.
Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar and mission director B Jayakumar told the media post the launch that the main challenge was the deployment of the 104 satellites in orbit so that they do not collide.
They said the foreign satellites were placed in quadrapacks, which are like small boxes. Once these quadrapacks were released from the rocket, the satellites were thereafter released in a timesequence manner. “The deployment went off flawlessly and we got a good response from the international customers,” Kiran Kumar said. He emphasised that mission was not to break any records, but to utilise the extra capacity in the PSLV .
The chairman also said the other challenge was adhering to the timeframe demanded by the customers. He said this was also achieved.Jayakumar had earlier told TOI that the success of the mission would ensure a larger share for India in the global satellite market. “It is a combination of technology and commerce,” he said. So far, of the 226 satellites launched through PSLV , 180 belonged to other countries.
Around 16 minutes and 48 seconds after the lift-off, the rocket began injecting satellites. In the succeeding 12 minutes all the 104 satellites separated from the PSLV .
Veteran space scientist K Kasturirangan also hailed the record launch, terming it as a remarkable feat and spectacular success demonstrat ing to the world India’s capability in the field.
“I admire Isro for having done this and demonstrated to the world that we can launch more than 100 satellites in a single shot”, the for mer chair man of the country’s premier space research organisation said.
India’s space techonology has reached new heights, but questions remain about a human space mission, Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar at the PSLV launch on Wednesday clarified that there was no hurry to initiate a human space programme at this point.
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When questioned on the delay of a manned mission Kumar said, “At this point, the human space programme is not a priority. But then we need to continue critical technology development and we are working towards it. When the resource availability and prioritisation matches, I am sure it will happen.”
The chairman further said the mission to moon, Chandrayaan-2, will be ready before the end of this year, its launch has been planned for the first quarter of 2018.Chandrayaan-2 will be an advanced version from its predecessor. It will have an orbiter, lander and a rover to conduct studies on the lunar soil. “A six-foot rover will conduct in situ analysis,” he said.