Indian space agency ISRO made history on February 15 by blasting 100 + satellites into space, all aboard one of its rockets.
On that day, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 carried into space a weather satellite for India (Cartosat-2 Series satellite) as well as 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the US. The PSLV launch ricket lifted off from ISRO’s launch centre at Sriharikota space centre in Andhra Pradesh. This is three times the previous record of 37 satellite launches in a single day (held by Russia).
Bang on target
It was a high risk launch for ISRO as numerous satellites were released by the PSLV rocket in rapid-fire fashion within seconds of each other. One mistake would have sent satellites colliding (dashing) into each other. But it was all done in 11 minutes, with each satellite placed into its precise orbit. It was a flawless (perfect) performance from ISRO, that was much admired all over the world.
The successful launch of so many satellites gives India a stellar (top) ranking among the space agencies of the world. Plus, the fact that ISRO’s satellite launches are much cheaper than those done by European agencies has given the Indian space agency a real edge. Bengaluru-based ISRO is now regarded as one of the best space research agencies in the world.
Later this year, ISRO will launch the GSLV Mark III, its biggest ever launch vehicle that can carry extremely heavy satellites into space. In early 2018, the second moon mission-Chandrayaan-2 will be sent up. This will be an advanced version of the Chandrayaan 1 space craft (launched in 2008) and will include an orbiter, lander and rover, which indicates that the craft will land on the moon and will move on the lunar surface to carry out scientific tasks.
What are Nano satellites?
Nano satellites are small satellites (nano means small) less than 500 kg in weight. In the case of this launch, the nano satellites weighed much less as the entire payload (weight carried by the spacecraft) was 1378 kg, of which the weather satellite weighed 714 kg. The rest of the weight (1378-714=664 kg) was distributed across the nano satellites.
Good to know: What happens during a space launch?
The rocket with its payload strapped on lifts off from a space station on Earth. Once it reaches the right altitude (height) it releases its payload, placing them into orbit around Earth.