ISRO rocket blasting off from Sriharikota with record 104 satellites.
India sets world record putting 104 satellites in space
NEW DELHI, February 15, 2017
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the country's space agency, has successfully launched 104 satellites from a single rocket, setting a world record, that will cement the country's space smarts after its successful Mars orbiter mission.
The PSLV-37 rocket blasted off from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 10:58 p.m. EST (0358 GMT) on Wednesday with three satellites from India and 101 foreign satellites from six countries - US, Kazakhstan, Israel, Netherlands, Switzerland and UAE, reported the Indian Express.
Using the time-tested and popular Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), ISRO surpassed its personal best of sending up 20 satellites in one go.
The bar, however, was previously set by Russia in 2014 when it launched 37 satellites in a single mission.
The launch has almost tripled the current record of 37 satellites Russia sent into orbit in 2014, stated the report.
A delighted Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the ISRO for its world-record launch.
"Congratulations to @isro for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites!,” the prime minister tweeted.
Acknowledging the proud moment for India, Modi said the nation salutes our scientists. “This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists.”
The prime minister also spoke to the Secretary, Department of Space, congratulating him and the entire team of scientists for Wednesday’s “exceptional achievement.”
He dubbed it as yet another feather in the cap of India's ambitious space programme that has earned a reputation of offering a reliable low cost alternative to existing international players.
The Indian government has increased the budget for its space programme this year and also announced plans to send a mission to Venus.
The increasing competition for space-related power and prestige in Asia has echoes of the Cold War space race of the mid-20th centurym, according to CNN.
India, China and Japan have all outlined bold space exploration plans for 2017 and beyond. Smaller powers, like South Korea, also want to get in on the act with ambitions of their own.
"It's going to be a big deal. It shows the sophistication of India's space program," Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at the Observer Research Foundation, said before the launch.
"I've long said that the real race is in Asia," says Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor and space specialist at the US Naval War College.
"Recognition of the multifaceted benefits from space exploration and space technology dates back to the Apollo program. Asian countries have been following that model and seeking those benefits ever since."
India's Mangalyaan probe - Asia's first successful Mars orbiter - forced the world to take note of India's space program, which was set up in 1962, said the CNN report.
The probe was famously sent to the Red Planet in 2014 for $74 million -- less than the $100 million than Hollywood spent making space thriller "Gravity." The Mangalyaan now has pride of place on India's new 2,000 rupee note.
"It was a 'beat the Chinese' mission which they hoped would translate into regional and global prestige cum leadership. Anything that gets you into the records book -- like breaking the Russian satellite launch record -- falls into a similar category," says Johnson-Freese.
The Mars mission was not just a "sound and light show," says Rajagopalan. It established India's credibility as a space power and has translated into tangible economic benefits when it comes to the big business of satellite launches.
To date India has launched 79 satellites from 21 countries, including satellites from big companies like Google and Airbus, earning India at least $157 million, according to government figures.
In 2016, it launched 20 satellites in one go but Wednesday's launch was a far bigger challenge.