India marked yet another milestone in space on Monday when its PSLV C-35 rocket successfully launched a total of eight satellites—SCATSAT-1 and seven others (fi ve foreign and two domestic)— into two different orbits. Indian Space Research Organisation’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is one of world’s most reliable launch vehicles, which has been in service for over 20 years, and launched various satellites for historic missions like Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission, Space Capsule Recovery Experiment, Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
Incidentally, the PSLV can also be used as an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead. The latest launch at 9.12 am from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota set two records. One, this was the first multi orbital launch, which involves injecting satellites into two separate orbits using multiple burn technology. This essentially allows the rocket to shut down mid-fl ight and restart again. Two, at two hours and 15 minutes, this was the PSLV’s longest fl ight. SCATSAT-1, a 370-kg weather satellite which will provide data forecasting and cyclone detection and tracking and has a 5-year lifespan, was placed at an altitude of 730 km. They included Pratham, built by students of IIT Mumbai, which can be used to detect and predict tsunamis and weather anomalies, and PiSat, developed by PES Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, a remote sensing nanosatellite (weighs under 10 kg).
The other payloads included three Algerian satellites, an American highresolution imaging satellite, and a Canadian satellite which helps track commercial aircraft and reduce space debris. In June, ISRO had successfully placed 20 satellites in orbits in one go. With this feat, it has launched 79 foreign satellites from over 20 countries, and is scheduled to launch two more next month. The magical figure of 100 does not seem that far away.