Sky’s not the limit

India’s Space Programme

With its landmark simultaneous launch of 104 satellites recently, India’s space programme not only shattered the previous 37-satellite launch record by Russian space agency Roscosmos in June 2014, but emphatically signalled its intent to muscle into the multi-billion dollar global space sweepstakes.

Only three of the 104 satellites in the commercial launch were Indian, with as many as 96 sent by two American customers, and one each by Israel, the UAE, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Kazakhstan. The largest of them was India’s 714-kilo earth observation satellite, the other 103 being ‘nano satellites’ weighing a combined 664 kilos. K. Sivam, Direc­tor of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, in Kerala, termed the launch immensely complex as it had to ensure that the swarming satellites did not collide into one another within the 11 minutes that they were released one by one.

The load of satellites was lofted into their polar sun-syn­chronous orbits by the 44.4-metre tall and 294-tonne four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 of ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation, as it took off from its launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) on the Sriharikota islet off the eastern coast.

ISRO’s feat sets an enviable benchmark for the other five space-faring nations, the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and Europe with its European Space Agency. Putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is a growing business sector, as countries worldwide seek greater and more high-technology imagery and telecommunications. Of the $323 billion global space industry, its commercial support segment that includes launch services is alone worth $121 billion.

ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar stressed that the aim of the combined launch was not to set a record, but to help ISRO maximise its capability and expertise. “Last year we saw nine successful launches,” mentioned SDSC director P. Kunhikrishnan. “This year has begun with a remarkable event and we congratulate all the customers for placing their confidence in ISRO.”…Click HERE to read full article.