Countdown begins on India’s record-setting launch of 104 satellites


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The competition heats up: ISRO has begun the countdown for Wednesday’s launch of India’s PSLV rocket, carrying a record-setting 104 satellites.

he Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle would be carrying a 714 kilogram main satellite for earth observation and 103 smaller “nano satellites” which would weigh a combined 664 kilograms. Nearly all of the nano satellites are from other countries, including Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and 96 from United States, said the state-run ISRO.

If successful, India will set a world record as the first country to launch the most satellites in one go, surpassing Russia which launched 39 satellites in a single mission in June 2014.

Obviously, all these different satellites got a cut-rate launch deal by sharing the launch, which helps make their launch affordable. The disadvantage here is that they do not have much flexibility in choosing their orbits, which is why there is also a market now for small rockets aimed at launching single smallsats, such as Rocket Lab’s Electron.

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One comment

  • Gealon

    Sounds like the next “Big” development for nano-sats should be a low cost, high efficiency electric propulsion system, so those who are launched as secondary payloads can alter the orbits. In my reading I see a company called Busek seems to have a wide selection of miniature propulsion systems, however so far I haven’t yet heard of a cube-sat majorly changing it’s orbit. Granted cube-sats don’t tend to make the news unless they are launched 103 at a time or are testing the flashy new solar sail deployment hardware. The electrospray thruster looks promising for the low power applications of cube-sats, has excellent specific impulse and Busek even purpose manufactures for that market. Perhaps all that is needed for secondary payloads is to carry additional propellant for these existing engines. In any case, it will be interesting to see what the future holds and of course, all the best to the PSLV launch.

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