India is all set to rule the space… Heard right?? With its mega-launch program on February 15, India will create history by launching a record 104 satellites, including 101 foreign ones, into the polar sun-synchronous orbit(SSO), about 500 km above the earth. The launch is expected to be a world record when it comes to the number of satellites put into orbit by a launch vehicle in a single mission, surpassing the 37 satellites launch record set by a Russian rocket on June 19, 2014.India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), will launch the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 103 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 664 kg. Of the total earth-observation satellites, there are 101 nano satellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 96 from United States of America (USA), as well as two Nano satellites from India and the Cartosat-2 series. The foreign satellites in the list are 88 Dove satellites from PLanet Labs, USA, 8 Lemur-2 nanosatellites from Spire Global, BGUSat from Israel, Al-Farabi-1 from Kazakhstan, PEASS from The Netherlands, DIDO -2 from Switzerland, and Nayif-1 from UAE. The total weight of all the satellites carried on board PSLV-C37 is about 1378 kg. PSLV-C37 will be launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 9.28 Hrs IST. It will be the sixteenth flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).
The deployment of 88 Dove satellites by the PSLV-C37 mission is on track to be the single biggest constellation launch in history. The major challenge that would be faced by scientists for the proposed mission is to hold the rocket in the same orbit till all the satellites are ejected. Dr. K. Sivan, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, said the every satellite will be separated in different angle and at different time from the launch vehicle in order to prevent collision between satellites.The satellite separated from the launch vehicle will have a relative velocity of one metre per second. So after 1,000 seconds the distance between a satellite and the rocket will be 1,000 metres. “The satellite that gets launched first will move at a relatively faster velocity than the next satellite that is launched. Due to different relative velocities, the distance between the satellites will increase continuously but the orbit will be the same,” he said.
PSLV- C37, will use the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) to determine the orbit of each satellite injected from the launch vehicle at a height of more than 500 km from the earth’s surface. “By turning to IRNSS, we are shedding our dependence on the Global Positioning System (GPS) that was being used for orbit determination in previous missions,” said Dr. K. Sivan.
Earlier ISRO was about to launch 83 satellites in one go which included 80 foreign satellites and three Indian satellites in January. However, the Indian space agency has made addition of 20 more foriegn satellites and have postponed the launch for a month.
ISRO has gained reputation in International space market after the success of iconic Mangalyaan mission and successful GSLV launch which enabled Indian space agency to lift up heavier payload. After that foreign space agencies are seeking help of ISRO for their satellite launches. Space agencies like NASA are also willing to collaborate with ISRO for future space missions.Till date, ISRO has launched over 50 foreign satellites. By lifting up 101 foreign satellites in one go, Indian space agency will improve its own record for lifting the maximum number of foreign satellites. In addition, Indian space agency will hit the century of foreign satellite launches. When asked about record making ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar has revealed that the Indian space agency is not focusing on making the world record rather scientists are working on expanding the launching capacity of launch vehicles.
Antrix is the commercial wing of Isro, an organisation that promotes and commercially markets Isro products and services. The 101 international customer nano-satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited. Antrix is wholly owned by the Government of India.
ISRO has some stiff competition ahead, but for now, it is in good position for commercial satellite launches. I think its time for ISRO to focus on reviving human spaceflight venture and other technology developments. India is also planning to go to Venus for the first time and re-visit the Red Planet very soon.
The launch will be a major feat in country’s space history, a record no space agency across the globe has achieved. Following are some of the records that will be created if this mega launch is a huge success:
- ISRO will be the world record holder of launching the most number of satellites in one go.
- Indian space agency will hit the century of foreign satellite launches.
PSLV-C37 will use IRNSS, India’s own navigation system, therby shedding our dependence on GPS
- ISRO is breaking its own record with this launch. Last year the space agency had launched record 20 satellites in one go.
- The deployment of 88 satellites from a single rocket is the largest single fleet launch in history.
- This is a record for the largest private satellite constellation in history, totaling 149 satellites in all operated by Planet.
Wishing ISRO all the best for creating history…. We can also be a witness to the history by switching on our TV or by you tube. Doordarshan will telecast the launch operations live, with a pre-launch program starting from 8:50AM. Isro will also be streaming the launch live on its site. Finally, a live web stream of the launch will also be available on the Doordarshan YouTube channel.