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On Feb. 15, 2017, India’s space agency (ISRO) successfully launched a record 104 satellites on a single rocket; this is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 blasted off at 9.28 am from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and first injected the Cartosat-2 Earth-observation satellite into orbit, followed by the other 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the United States, in a gap of about 30 minutes.

Cartosat-2, with a mission life of five years, will send images that cater to coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, distribution of water, creation of land-use maps, among others.

As the scientists at the Mission Control center  broke into cheers, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A S Kiran Kumar announced: “All 104 satellites successfully placed in orbit. My hearty congratulations to the entire ISRO team for the wonderful job they have done.”

The previous record was held by the Russian Space Agency, which had launched 37 satellites in one go.  ISRO launched 23 satellites in a single mission in June 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Team ISRO for the successful launch.

In today’s complex mission after the end of 28-hour countdown, the PSLV-C37 injected the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite followed by ISRO’s nano satellites INS-1A and INS-1B in a 505-kilometer polar Sun Synchronous Orbit. INS-1A and INS-1B will carry four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments.

Of the 101 co-passenger satellites, 96 belong to the United States, five from international customers of ISRO including Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates.

The nano-satellites belonging to international customers are being launched as part of the arrangement between international customers and Antrix Corporation Ltd (Antrix), the commercial arm of ISRO.  So far, ISRO has launched 226 satellites out of which 179 are from foreign nations.

He said launching 104 satellites onboard a single rocket was a complex mission. “But our teams came up with very good solutions. The integration part are also done very well by our team. it is enjoyable mission and excellent team work.”

Satish Dhawan Space Centre Director P Kunhi Krishnan said the launch clearly reiterated ISRO’s capability in handling complex missions very professionally.

ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) Director K Sivan said it was a matter of national pride that the country had launched 104 satellites in one go using PSLV.

“It is one of the toughest missions we have handled,” he added.

Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar congratulated his team for the successful launch of 104 satellites. “My hearty congratulations to the team. The Prime Minister has conveyed his congratulations,” he said.

ISRO successfully launched a record 104 satellites from the spaceport of Sriharikota on Feb. 15, 2017. (Credit: NDTV)