In its thirty ninth flight, The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 15th February, 2017 launched a record 104 satellites on board a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The earlier record for the highest number of satellites launched in a a single flight was held by Russia.
The total weight of all the 104 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C37 was 1378 kg. The main payload is the Indian earth observation satellite, CartoSat-2D. where additional motors are strapped onto the rocket. The other 103 satellites are nano-satellites from India(3), United States(96), Israel(1), Kazakhstan(1), the Netherlands(1), Switzerland(1), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)(1) . The 101 foreign satellites were launched as part of a commercial agreement between ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation.
“After separation, the two solar arrays of the CartoSat-2 series satellite were deployed automatically and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore took over the control of the satellite,’’ said by ISRO.
In the last few years there has been a rapid increase in numbers of pico-satellites, micro-satellites and nano-satellites. These small satellites are cheaper to make and easily configurable. Educational and Research institutions Private companies, and Space agencies around the world are finding newer and more innovative uses for nano-satellites.The platform has seen widespread adoption by private companies as well, with the 8 Lemur satellites on board based on the CubeSat standard. ISRO is launching two satellites in its own nano-satellite standard, ISRO Nano Satellite (INS).
The Indian CartoSat-2D satellite will be used for management of road networks, mapping between urban and rural regions, regulation of coastal land use, water distribution and other some other purposes.
PSLV-C37 Launching courtesy :ISRO
Out of 104 satellites on board, 103 are Nano-satellites. Many satellites are based on the CubeSat standard. The platform was originally developed by Universities in the United States so that research students could easily get access to Space. The student satellites from UAE’s American University of Sharjah (AUS) , Israel’s Ben Gurion University and Kazakhstan’s Al-Farabi Kazakh National University and are all based on the CubeSat standard.
Why ISRO ?
The PSLV is a relatively small rocket. It doesn’t have the capacity to launch indeed heavy payloads. Now days, world needs such a small rocket to launch their satellite. Private companies over the world are racing to construct smaller rockets to launch the smaller satellites. Space agencies are constructing racks to house a number of satellites in a single take up vehicle. ISRO may increase the number of satellites in there upcoming future mission, by packing in an increasing number of satellites directed toward or facing each launch.
Why not NASA or other US based SpaceX ?
Antrix Corporation Limited is the commercial arm of ISRO , provides launch services most cheaper than other Space agencies or private companies. The French Arianespace, NASA or the US based SpaceX comparatively cannot compete with the prices that are offered by ISRO.
Satellite Launch Mission – Comparison of Costs:
- American Atlas V – $100 million ( Rs 669.2 crore)
- European Ariane-5 – $100 million ( Rs 669.2 crore)
- Japanexe H-IIA – $100 million ( Rs 669.2 crore)
- Chinese Long March – $100 million ( Rs 669.2 crore)
- Russian Proton – $68 million ( Rs 455 crore)
- Falcon 9 – $57 million ( Rs 381 crore)
- ISRO PSLV – $15 million ( Rs 100 crore) !
So , obvious reason is that why all major countries choosing ISRO over all above Space agency companies or private companies to launch their satellite.
ISRO : Upcoming Lauches in 2017- 2018
ISRO is planning to launch two satellites in March and April this year. According to ISRO official website, the GSLV MARK II will carry the SAARC satellite, and the GSLV MARK III will inject the GSAT-19 , a communication satellite. Prime Minister Narendra Modi , during the SAARC summit at Nepal in November 2014, had announced launching of a SAARC satellite for benefit of telecommunication and telemedicine.
The Chandrayaan-2 will be launch in first quarter of 2018. India’s second mission to the Moon, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover.
PSLV-C37 is a big success for India and the ISRO deserves all the credit. The government needs to pay attention of the dangers being faced by ISRO and should play an active role in fending them off. ISRO is a national property and needs to be protected.