SRIHARIKOTA: Scripting history, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Wednesday launched a record number of 20 satellites - including its earth observation series and two designed by college students - in a single mission through its most-trusted PSLV-C34 rocket from the spaceport here.
Known for its low-cost space programmes and efficiency in launching satellites, this is the first time Isro is launching such a record number of satellites in a single mission, surpassing its earlier record of 2008 when it launched 10 satellites, mostly commercial ones, in a single mission.
Isro's workhorse rocket PSLV-C34, which weighs 320 tonnes, took off from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, 110 km from Chennai, exactly at 9.26 am and sixteen minutes later it launched the most important Cartosat-2, its earth observation satellite series followed by 19 others, including one from an American company owned by internet giant Google, amid rapturous cheers from scientists here. The entire mission of launching 20 satellites was completed in flat 20 minutes.
Declaring the mission "successful", Isro chief A S Kiran Kumar congratulated his huge team of men and women for executing the launch in a "record time".
The PSLV C-34 has done its job. We have the current generation of earth observation satellite of Cartosat 2 series," Mr Kumar told those present at the Space Centre with a chuckle.
"This is yet another milestone achieved by Isro. Of the 20 satellites that were launched, 17 are from other countries," he said.
Those 17 play loads are commercial, earning much-needed revenue for the Isro, which has been launching satellites of different countries from here, earning a revenue of USD 100 million so far.
Of the 17 commercial satellites, 12 are earth imaging "Dove satellites" of the US, another American satellite of Google, two from Canada, and one each from Germany and Indonesia.
Two academic satellites - Sathyabamasat designed by students of the Sathyabama University and Swayam of the students of College of Engineering, Pune - were also placed along with the Cartosat-2 series satellite that will provide enhanced satellite data for remote sensing services, urban and rural development, coastal land use, disaster monitoring, roads and communication networking.
With Wednesday's successful launch, the total number of satellites launched by India's workhorse launch vehicle PSLV is 113, of which 39 are Indian and the remaining 74 from abroad....