With its landmark simultaneous launch of 104 satellites on 15 February, India's space programme not only shattered the previous 37 satellite launch record by Russian space agency Roscosmos in June 2014, but signalled its intent to be a major player in 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 714kg earth observation satellite, the other 103 being 'nano satellites' weighing a combined 664 kg. K. Sivam, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, 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 44.4metre tall and 294tonne fourstage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLVc37 of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). The launch was from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota.
ISRO's feat sets an enviable benchmark for the other five spacefaring nations, the US, Russia, China, Japan, and Europe (through its European Space Agency). Putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is a growing business sector, as countries worldwide seek greater and more hightechnolo