When India on February 16 became the first nation in the world to have launched over a hundred satellites in one mission, space agency ISRO not only broke the existing record held by Russia by a large margin, it also showed the world a reliable low-cost way to put their satellites into orbit, giving serious competition to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
A rough comparison shows that the PSLV C-37 launch’s cost, which was about $15 million (about Rs 100 crore) is just one-fourth of what a SpaceX mission would cost at $60 million (Rs 402 crore).
In a 2015 interivew ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar, Chairman had said, “Depending upon the configuration of PSLV to launch vehicle, the cost will be Rs 100-145 crore. If it is a communication satellite, in 10-12 years ISRO will draw an income of nearly Rs 1,000 crore."
Russia launched 37 satellites in one go in June 2014, and two years later India topped it by 67 to carry 104 satellites into space, in a sign of things to come. Of the 104, foreign payloads made up 101 nano-satellites. That’s 101 satellites that Elon Musk’s SpaceX could have launched, hypothetically.
With the launch, India has taken a giant leap towards becoming a big player in multi-billion commercial satellites launch market, which until now was monopolised by a few companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Stephane Israel’s Arianespace, a French multinational.
So what was Elon Musk’s response to ISRO’s success? When a Twitter user asked Elon Musk to comment on the 104 satellite launches by India, he said “very impressive!”
In yet another response he added that “they (ISRO) are doing India proud”.
India has a clear advantage in the segment, considering the fact that the ISRO’s launch technology is the world’s least expensive while being highly successful.
Wednesday’s ISRO launch takes the total number of satellites (not including nano-satellites) that the PSLV series has put in space in the past 22 years at 113, of which as many as 74 belonged to foreign clients.