In its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites in the morning of February 15, 2017 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty eighth consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The total weight of all the 104 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C37 was 1378 kg.
PSLV-C37 lifted off at 0928 hrs (9:28 am) IST, as planned, from the first launch Pad. After a flight of 16 minutes 48 seconds, the satellites achieved a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 506 km inclined at an angle of 97.46 degree to the equator (very close to the intended orbit) and in the succeeding 12 minutes, all the 104 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage in a predetermined sequence beginning with Cartosat-2 series satellite, followed by INS-1 and INS-2. The total number of Indian satellites launched by PSLV now stands at 46.
After separation, the two solar arrays of Cartosat-2 series satellite were deployed automatically and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore took over the control of the satellite. In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration following which it will begin to provide remote sensing services using its panchromatic (black and white) and multispectral (colour) cameras.
The imagery from the Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications. The data sets could be used for urban planning of 500 cities under the Amrut Planning Scheme. The government initiative of 100 smart city programme in which these data sets could be used for master plan preparation and detailed geospatial data preparation for rural roads and infrastructure development.
Of the 103 co-passenger satellites carried by PSLV-C37, two – ISRO Nano Satellite-1 (INS-1) weighing 8.4 kg and INS-2 weighing 9.7 kg – are technology demonstration satellites from India.
The remaining 101 co-passenger satellites carried were international customer satellites from USA (96), The Netherlands (1), Switzerland (1), Israel (1), Kazakhstan (1) and UAE (1). This mission involved many technical challenges like realising the launch of a large number of satellites during a single mission within the time frame sought by the customers from abroad. Besides, ensuring adequate separation between all the 104 satellites during their orbital injection as well as during their subsequent orbital life was yet another challenge associated with this complex mission.
With the successful launch, the total number of customer satellites from abroad launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has reached 180. The Wall Street Journal wrote on successful launch of 104 satellites in single flight “India broke record for Launching Most Satellites From Single Rocket”. “India’s space agency launched a record 104 satellites from a single rocket as it crossed another milestone in its low-cost space-exploration program.”
The Journal added “The mission reinforces India’s emerging reputation as a reliable and cost-effective option for launching satellites. In 2014, ISRO put a satellite into the orbit of Mars, becoming the first Asian country to reach the red planet at fraction of the cost of a similar launch in U.S. and Europe.”
BJP National president tweeted “Great day for India. Congratulations to @isro for creating a record by successfully launching PSLV-C37 carrying 104 satellites in one go.” He tweeted further “I salute our scientists for their dedication & commitment,it is an incredible step for the country’s space programme.Proud moment. Jai Hind.”
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO on successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites. “Congratulations to ISRO for the successful launch of PSLV-C37 and CARTOSAT satellite together with 103 nano satellites. This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists. Spoke to the Secretary, Department of Space and congratulated him & the entire team of scientists on today’s exceptional achievement”, the Prime Minister said.