ISRO to Launch World Record 100 Satellites in the PSLV-C37 Mission

India’s Space Agency, Indian Space Research Organization is going to launch a world record of 103 satellites – all but three of them foreign – at one go on a single in the first week of February 2017, in what will be a major feat not attempted by any country. As India is looking to grab a larger slice of the lucrative commercial market, 100 out of 103 satellites set for launch by ISRO’s workhorse rocket PSLV-C37 in February from its Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh belong to foreign nations that include US and Germany

“We are making a century by launching more than 100 satellites at a time,” says S.Somanath, Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre of the Indian Space Research Organization, told a plenary session on the second day of the ongoing Indian Science Congress here today. The space agency, earlier had planned a launch of 83 satellites in the last week of January, out of which 80 were foreign ones. But, with the addition of 20 more foreign satellites, the launch was delayed and postponed to first week of February, Somanath said

PSLV-C36 Mission to launch the ResourceSat-2A on December 7th was the last ISRO mission. This launch had no other co-passenger satellites as the orbit of the ResourceSat-2A was at a higher altitude than the orbits used by microsatellites and cubesats. There won’t be any other PSLV launches till the PSLV-C37 launch in February 2017

Somanath, did not specify the number of countries participating in the launching of its satellites in this mission, but said it includes nations like Germany and United States. “These will be 100 micro-small satellites that will be launched using PSLV-C37. The weight of the payload will be estimated 1350 Kgs, of which 500 to 600 Kgs will be the weight of the satellite,” Mr. Somanath added. Its updated payload was said to be 1,600 Kg in the starting plan of launching 83 satellites

PSLV-C37 mission would likely see the PSLV rocket in the XL configuration, with six additional strap on boosters. In fact, the first ISRO mission to beam back footage of the launch and satellite deployment from on board cameras was the PSLV-C36 mission. If on-board cameras are on the PSLV-C37 mission as well, space enthusiasts can expect exciting footage of the take-off and deployment of satellites in space

This launch will be a major feat in the history of country’s space history, as no exercise on this scale has been attempted ever before. ISRO has launched a total of 33 satellites on PSLV rockets in 2016. Among these, 20 were launched in PSLV-C34 mission. This would put into perspective how ambitious a single launch of over a hundred satellites at a time is. Every details of the satellites are not likely to be revealed before launch because of non-disclosure agreements that ISRO has signed with foreign companies.

Till now, the maximum number of satellites launched under a single mission is 37, a record that Russia set in 2014. The United Space Agency, NASA launched 29 satellites at a time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet South Asian satellite project, meanwhile, is going to take-off in March, 2017

South Asian satellite will be a part of GSAT-9 that will be launched in March 2017, M. Nageshwara Rao, Associate Director of ISRO have said. The communication satellite would have been launched in December 2016, but was delayed slightly as some other satellites are to be launched before that. The sources has said that talks with Afghanistan to have the country on-board for the project is in its final stages.

Earlier, the project was known as SAARC satellite, to envisage as a gift to its neighbours, faced stiff resistance from Pakistan. The neighbouring country wanted it to be launched under the aegis of South Asian regional forum, but later it backed out of the project. Apart from India, the other benefiters of the satellite are Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, and Bhutan