The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a milestone today with successful launch of record 20 satellites carried by its flagship rocket in a 26-minute flight from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
The 320-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carried 17 foreign small satellites from Canada, Indonesia, Germany and the US but the main passenger was a 727-kg Indian earth observation satellite called Cartosat, which can take high-resolution images.
PSLV has "done its job," said ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar.
The launch also placed into orbit two Indian academic community-built satellites, Sathyabhamasat and Swayam. In addition, 13 US-made small satellites have also been placed in orbit. These include an earth imaging satellite made by Terra Bella, a Google-owned company. The 110 kg Google satellite called SkySat Gen- 2 is capable of taking very high resolution images and high definition video.
Launching 20 satellites in a single mission is like "allowing birds to fly in space", the ISRO chairman had earlier told NDTV. "Each of these small objects that you are putting into space will carry out their own activity, which is independent of the other, and each of them will live a wonderful life for a finite period for which they have been designed".
This is the first time ISRO has launched more than 10 satellites with a single rocket. In 2008, it flew 10 satellites. Currently, Russia holds the world record for placing the most number of satellites in a single launch. Its Dnepr rocket launched 37 satellites in 2014.