Significance of launching 104 satellites by ISRO


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scripted history on February 15, 2017  by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including India's earth observation satellite, on a single rocket from the spaceport in Sriharikota. This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission. 

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 today morning (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.
 
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).
With today’s successful launch, the total number of 
customer satellites from abroad launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has reached 180.
 
Why is this launch significant?
The rocket is carrying almost 3 times the record number of satellites launched in a single mission — Russia’s Dnepr rocket carried 37 payloads in June 2014. In January that year, American company Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket flew with 34 satellites; the Dnepr had carried 32 payloads in November 2013. On June 20 last year, ISRO’s PSLV-C34 launched 20 satellites.
 
What challenges do so many satellites present?
No great technological leap is involved. Smaller and lighter satellites have made it possible for rockets to carry more of them. The number of satellites that can be loaded on a rocket is restricted only by the space available and the carrying capacity of the launch vehicle in terms of weight. But satellites have to be stacked together in certain configurations so that they can be ejected in desired orbits without disturbing the flights of others or colliding with each other. This requires lot of engineering innovations.
 
The PSLV-C37 will inject into orbit 104 satellites from 7 countries, nearly 3 times the highest number flown by a single mission currently. A ‘flock’ of 88 will get to work to map every inch of the planet in super high resolution, creating images of limitless potential.
 
Why is this launch significant?
The rocket is carrying almost 3 times the record number of satellites launched in a single mission — Russia’s Dnepr rocket carried 37 payloads in June 2014. In January that year, American company Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket flew with 34 satellites; the Dnepr had carried 32 payloads in November 2013. On June 20 last year, ISRO’s PSLV-C34 launched 20 satellites.
 
What challenges do so many satellites present?
No great technological leap is involved. Smaller and lighter satellites have made it possible for rockets to carry more of them. The number of satellites that can be loaded on a rocket is restricted only by the space available and the carrying capacity of the launch vehicle in terms of weight. But satellites have to be stacked together in certain configurations so that they can be ejected in desired orbits without disturbing the flights of others or colliding with each other. This requires lot of engineering innovations.
 
Rockets often use ‘container’ satellites for a bunch of sub-satellites. After the container is injected, it fires the sub-satellites into their respective orbits. Both the Dnepr and Antares rockets had container satellites. In the ISRO launch, however, each satellite will be ejected independently from the rocket.
 
Was the satellites be released in one go or one after the other?
The Cartosat-2 series satellite was the first, and the two Indian nano-satellites, INS-1A and INS-1B  followed. The other satellites, including the 88 ‘Dove’ satellites, were then released in pairs over a period of 10 minutes. At the time of separation from the rocket, the satellites travelled at more than 7.5 km per second.
 
The PSLV-C37 injected into orbit 104 satellites from 7 countries, nearly 3 times the highest number flown by a single mission currently. A ‘flock’ of 88 will get to work to map every inch of the planet in super high resolution, creating images of limitless potential.
 
Why is this launch significant?
The rocket carryied almost 3 times the record number of satellites launched in a single mission — Russia’s Dnepr rocket carried 37 payloads in June 2014. In January that year, American company Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket flew with 34 satellites; the Dnepr had carried 32 payloads in November 2013. On June 20 last year, ISRO’s PSLV-C34 launched 20 satellites.
 
What challenges do so many satellites present?
No great technological leap is involved. Smaller and lighter satellites have made it possible for rockets to carry more of them. The number of satellites that can be loaded on a rocket is restricted only by the space available and the carrying capacity of the launch vehicle in terms of weight. But satellites have to be stacked together in certain configurations so that they can be ejected in desired orbits without disturbing the flights of others or colliding with each other. This requires lot of engineering innovations.
 
Rockets often use ‘container’ satellites for a bunch of sub-satellites. After the container is injected, it fires the sub-satellites into their respective orbits. Both the Dnepr and Antares rockets had container satellites. In the ISRO launch, however, each satellite was ejected independently from the rocket.



Sunday, 19th Feb 2017, 05:49:38 AM

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