CHENNAI: Come Wednesday, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be opening a new chapter in the history of space exploration and creating a world record of launching 104 satellites in one mission aboard workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that will be on its 39th journey.
The mission aims to put 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 103 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 664 kg at lift-off into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at 9.28 am from Sriharikota on Wednesday. The 48-hour countdown would begin on Monday.
The co-passenger satellites comprise 101 nanosatellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 96 from United States of America (USA), as well as two Nanosatellites from India. The total weight of all the satellites carried onboard PSLV-C37 is about 1378 kg.
The 101 International customer Nanosatellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), a Government of India company under Department of Space (DOS), the commercial arm of ISRO and the International customers.
To a query, ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar said he not too keen on projecting the mission as a world-record endeavour. Though, ISRO has mastered the art of launching multiple satellites in one mission like it did in June early last year, where 20 satellites were launched including 19 foreign satellites, it is a challenge to put 104 satellites in the same orbit.
He said unlike, in previous few PSLV missions, no manoeuvring will be done in this mission. "All the satellites will be put in the same orbit, which poses a different challenge," he said and added that 'XL' version of PSLV equipped with six strap-ons will be used for the mission.
Currently, Russia holds the record of launching maximum satellites in one mission when it lobbed 37 of them in 2014 followed by NASA’s 29 satellites.