Another year, Another Space Mission & Another feather in cap for ISRO
India’s space agency ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) created a new record on 15th February 2017, for the most number of satellites (104) sent in one go.
It is launched by the ISRO’s most bankable rocket (known as India’s space warehouse), the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The previous record was held by Russia, who, in 2014, launched 39 satellites in one go. The PSLV rocket that India used for this mission has a proven track record of successful space missions and has been in the past used for India’s much-talked-about space missions to the moon and to Mars. While most of the 104 satellites are small micro-satellites, there is also one large satellite that weighs 714 kg, and 103 smaller “Nano-satellites” with a combined weight of 664 kg (the smallest weighing just over a kilogram). The rocket took off from the Sriharikota spaceport (Andhra Pradesh). The rocket took off at 9:28am IST and cruised at a speed of 27,000km per hour, ejecting all the 104 satellites into orbit in just 30 minutes. All of the Nano satellites are from other countries, including Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and 96 from the United States. It was ISRO’s seventh consecutive successful launch of the navigation satellite with IRNSS-1G, which is the last of the constellation that will make India self-sufficient with indigenous navigation system. Today’s success also marked a sweet revenge on the United States that denied GPS assistance to India during the Kargil war with Pakistan. During the Kargil war of 1999, India had sought the help of the US in providing the GPS data of the region, which the US denied stating that Kargil war is part of the law and order problem of India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who watched today’s launch proceedings from his office, later during the day announced the name of India’s Navigation system as “Navic”. With Navic providing vital information about the India and its surrounding terrains, it will reduce the country’s dependency on US Global Positioning System (GPS).
There are few important facts to know about India’s special PSLV which is creating history year after year.
This was PSLV’s 39th successful mission. In year 2015, it carried 23 satellites to space.
The PSLV — 44m in height and 2.8m in diameter — made its first flight on September 20, 1993, and has since put 122 satellites successfully in orbit, apart from the 104 it carried to space today.
19 other countries have used has employed PSLV’s masterful capabilities to launch more than 40 satellites. The PSLV carried 101 foreign satellites out of 104 — which in turn helped with the total cost of the project. The first time it carried a multiple satellite payload was in
The first time it carried a multiple satellite payload was in 1999, when a satellite each of South Korea and Germany along with an Indian satellite. The PSLV is responsible for putting a whole range of Indian satellites in orbit — like the advanced weather satellite SCATSAT-1. Of the 3 Indian satellites it carried today, one was Cartosat-2 — ISRO’s own earth imaging spacecraft — which is capable of advanced remote sensing and “providing scene-specific spot imageries for cartographic applications.” The success of ISRO is not limited to few achievements. In the year 2013, it sent an unmanned rocket to orbit Mars at a cost of just $73m, compared with NASA’s Maven Mars mission which had a $671m price tag. Currently, ISRO is also mulling the idea of missions to Jupiter and Venus. Further, ISRO is all set to launch South Asian Satellite by the end of March 2017. This idea of South Asian Satellite was proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 after his historic victory in general elections. The South Asian Satellite (Previously known as SAARC Satellite) is for geo-spatial, communication & telemedicine applications. The Mangalyaan space probe entered orbit around Mars in 2014, successfully beaming back pictures of the Red Planet.
In its nearly 5 decades of existence, ISRO has successfully carried out a lunar probe (Chandrayaan-1). It has tested a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). It has launched its own satellite navigation system (NavIC system). It has developed its own expendable launch system (PSLV) and made scientific discoveries in space flights (microbes found in the stratosphere of Earth). It has also sent an Orbiter to Mars (Mangalyaan/ Mars Orbiter Mission). The Mars Orbiter Mission of ISRO is in itself a historic achievement. ISRO was the first organization in the world to reach the surface of Mars in the first go and that too on a shoestring budget as compared to that of other organizations’. Though one can assume the current capabilities of the organizations through their accomplishments, the fact of the matter is none of the space organizations are competing with each other. Space exploration works more like a network wherein each player puts in their contribution towards the betterment of society. As a proof, NASA and ISRO have worked together in the past on a synthetic aperture radar satellite (NISAR) which was used for studying hazards and global environmental change. NASA also provided ISRO with Moon Mineralogy Mapper during its ‘Chandrayaan’ mission. The organizations have future plans to work together for missions like Mars Exploration. The plans came as an expansion to NASA’s provision of communications and navigation support during ISRO’s ‘Mars Orbiter Mission’. India has carved out a reputation as a reliable low-cost option, relying in part on its famed skill of “Jugaad”- creating a cheap easy alternative solution.