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India launches 104 satellites at once

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched 104 satellites into orbit aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on Feb. 14, 2017, setting a new record for the most satellites launched simultaneously on one rocket. Credit: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) sent a record-breaking number of satellites into orbit with a single launch.

According to Space.com, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carried 104 satellites into space – three full-size satellites from India and 101 small satellites (known as nanosats) from the Netherlands, Israel, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and the United States.  The payload weighed around 3,040 pounds in total.

The previous record was set in 2014 when a Russian Dnepr rocket carried 37 satellites into orbit.

Part of the record-setting payload is a Carosat-2 series satellite destined for Earth observation.  The other 103 satellites will be placed into polar sun-synchronous orbit 314 miles above Earth.

The 104 satellites had to be strategically lined up for release from their carrier rocket.  The three large Indian satellites were deployed first, followed by 81 nanosats which were released radially away from the rocket.  The last 20 nanosats separated afterward in a separate sequence.

“This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists” India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

Of the 101 nanosats, 88 belong to the U.S.-based company Planet.  The small Earth-observing satellites, known as Doves, measure 12 inches long and are four inches high and four inches wide.  The Doves should allow Planet to image the entire Earth daily.

The historic multi-satellite launch was the 39th flight using a PSLV.  The vehicle has also launched satellites for missions such as India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, Chandrayaan-1, and the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment.

Kathy Fey

Kathy Fey

Staff Writer
Kathy Fey is a freelance writer with a creative writing degree from Mount Holyoke College. She is an active blogger and erstwhile facilitator of science and engineering programs for children.
About Kathy Fey (650 Articles)
Kathy Fey is a freelance writer with a creative writing degree from Mount Holyoke College. She is an active blogger and erstwhile facilitator of science and engineering programs for children.