India’s space agency ISRO is all set to script history by launching a record 104 satellites, including 101 foreign ones, into the earth's lower orbit, on Wednesday from Andhra Pradesh.
The 28 hour countdown for ISRO's historic launch of PSLV-C37/Cartosat-2 Series Satellite Mission carrying 104 satellites began at 5:28 AM on Monday morning. According to ISRO, the Mission is scheduled to be launched on February 15, 2017 at 9.28 hours IST from SDSC SHAR Sriharikota.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 39th flight (PSLV-C37), will launch the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation along with 103 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 664 kg at lift off. It will be launched into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
ISRO said that the co-passenger satellites comprise 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 from India.
The two Indian nano-satellites are ISRO's INS-1A and INS-1B. INS-1A and INS-1B will carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments, the space agency said.
Last year, ISRO had launched a record 20 satellites at one go. The highest number of satellites launched in a single mission is 37, a record that Russia set in 2014. The US space agency, NASA had launched 29. Today’s launch by ISRO will be the world's highest number of satellites to be inserted into space in a single launch.
The 101 international customer nano-satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the commercial arm of ISRO and the international customers.
Speaking on the record launch, ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar had earlier said the aim was to maximise the capability with each launch and it was not to set a record.
"We are not looking at it as a record or anything like that; we are just trying to maximise our capability with each launch, in trying to utilise that launch for the ability it has got and getting the maximum return," he had said.