India made history today when its PSLV-C37 was launched which will inject into orbit 104 satellites. The number of satellites in a single mission is huge and is a world record by a margin. It contains satellites from 7 countries including three from India. The previous record of a number of satellites launched on a single mission was held by Russia and followed by the US, but India has surpassed them all by almost three times their number, which in itself is a big achievement. This record breaking feat was achieved by ISRO after the first attempt in 2015 when it launched 23 satellites in a single mission. Interestingly, India’s most powerful rocket, the XL variant was used in the launch after it was used by ISRO for the famous Chandrayaan and Mangalyan.
Out of the 104 satellites, a whopping 96 belong to the US, but that is understandable since it has been a pioneer in space technology. Meanwhile, there were six other countries whose satellites went into the orbit, including India, UAE, Israel, Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Switzerland. The five countries are the international customers of ISRO. There are two nano satellites from India which will be carried in the rocket. ISRO and Antrix which has been mired in a few controversies in the past were involved in arranging for the launch of the nano-satellites.
The rocket will launch the CARTOSAT-2 Series satellite first which will be used for observing earth. After this, the rest of the 103 co-passenger satellites, including 88 ‘Dove’ satellites will then be released in regular intervals of around 10 minutes per pair.
While, the number of satellites in itself may not be considered a great technological advancement, but it sure is an engineering marvel because of the innovation involved. The rockets can be loaded by a huge number of rockets, but the real challenge was not how to stack them inside, but how the rocket released them outside without colliding with each other.
The main aim for most of the satellites involved is to map every corner of the earth in super high resolution, creating images of limitless potential, like road network monitoring, water distribution, land use map creation and others.