India, a one-rocket fledgling in space transportation compared to its European and U.S. counterparts, created launch history on Wednesday by placing a record 104 spacecraft in their desired orbits.
The feat was performed on the old reliable launch vehicle, the PSLV, numbered C-37, which took off from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, at 9.28 a.m.
C-37 was a largely commercial flight as all but three passenger satellites, small nanosats, belonged to six other countries. The 29-minute launch went off precisely as planned; it took just 11 minutes from the release of the primary Cartosat-2 series spacecraft to the last launch of a client satellite, ISRO said after the mega-payload launch.
The PSLV, in the category of launch vehicles that can lift relatively light loads to space, now marks 38 successful missions in a row out of a total of 39 flights.
This time, it took to space a total of 1,378 kg, of which the primary satellite was 714 kg.
The latest Cartosat is the fifth in the series of six Cartosat-2 spacecraft, starting from Cartosat 2 in 2007 and followed by what were earlier marked A, B, C, D and E. The last one is due.
“After a flight of 16 minutes and 48 seconds, the satellites achieved a polar Sun synchronous orbit of 506 km inclined at an angle of 97.46 degrees to the equator — very close to the intended orbit. In the next 12 minutes, all 104 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage in a predetermined sequence, beginning with the Cartosat-2 series, INS-1 and INS-2,” an official communique said.