Isro record: 20 satellites take off at one go
India’s PSLVC34 rocket on Wednesday circled the earth in about 90 minutes, at 7.7km per second, to inject a record 20 satellites into orbit and demonstrate its capability to reach another orbit in the same mission.
The `XL’ version of the 320-tonne spacecraft lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota with payloads weighing 1,288kg at 9.26am.
India’s remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2C, weighing 727.5kg, sat on the top part of the PSLV’s nose cone; riding piggyback were two Indian student satellites and 17 earth observation satellites from the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a mo numental accomplish ment. “20 satellites in a go! @isro continues to break new barriers. Hearty congratulations to our scientists on the monumental accomplishment,“ he tweeted. “PSLV has done its job again,“ said Isro chairman A S Kiran Kumar.
About 17 minutes after lift-off, the rocket began injecting satellites, starting with its Cartosat-2C. In the next 10 minutes, PSLV made several manoeuvres to inject all the satellites in a single orbit in different inclinations and with varying velocity, in the process travelling halfway around the earth.
Isro also used the occasion to test it capability to launch multiple satellites in different orbits. About 50 minutes after launching all the satellites, the fourth stage reignited for five seconds before travelling around the earth for 45 minutes, completing a full circle. The demonstration was conducted for Isro’s next mission, when it plans to launch five satellites in two different orbits.
Mission director B Jayakumar said that multiple launches in a single mission required complex technology and Isro is working on resolving certain problems that may arise during such launches.
“Initially we were a little hesitant to take 20 satellites in one go. But we soon resolved the problems,“ he said.
“What we have achieved today shows we have the expertise to take up complex missions,“ Jayakumar said.
Isro set a world record for the highest number of satellites launched in a single mission when it placed 10 satellites in a PSLV on April 28, 2008.Nasa in 2013 placed 29 satellites in a single mission and Russia in 2014 launched 33 satellites in one launch.
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