India smashes satellite launch record
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has set a new record for the number of satellites delivered into orbit from a single rocket. On Wednesday at 9.28 am local time, the PSLV C37/Cartosat-2 Series Mission was launched from the spaceport at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and delivered 104 satellites into orbit, beating the previous record for a single mission of 37 satellites set by Russia in 2014.
The record-breaking mission saw a 714-kg Cartosat-2 series satellite delivered to a 505-km Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at 9.45 am, followed by the release of 103 co-passenger satellites totaling 664 kg. The Cartosat-2 is an Earth observation satellite, while the 103 co-passenger satellites are nanosats, 96 of which are from the US, two from India, and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.
The satellites were carried aboard an XL variant – the most powerful – of India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37), and the mission was the 39th flight for the expendable launch system that was developed by ISRO. Although the payload of its first flight in September, 1993 failed to reach orbit, the launch vehicle has a perfect record since then.
The successful record launch follows the successful launch of 20 satellites by ISRO last year, and follows the success of the Indian space agency's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), which saw a probe enter orbit around the Red Planet in September, 2014, making India the first country to reach Mars orbit on its first attempt.