Now ISRO is the Rocket Raja?
On Wednesday, the premier space agency sent into orbit 104 satellites in one go. That its customers are developed nations such as the US, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UAE speaks volumes of the Indian Space narrative and its future. This article gives you more details.
ISRO’s big feat?
ISRO created history by launching 104 satellites on Wednesday: Three are Indian and 101 are foreign and smaller satellites. The agency used the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for the launch. It carried a 714 kg main satellite for earth observation and 103 smaller ‘Nano Satellites’ which weighed a total 664 kg. Most of the Nano satellites are from other countries like Israel, Kazakhstan, United Arab Emirates and the US, ISRO said in the interview.
With this collective launch, ISRO has beat the record of Russia, in 2014 catapulted 37 satellites in a single launch, using a modified inter-continental ballistic missile. Last June, India set a national record after it successfully launched a rocket carrying 20 satellites, including 13 from US.
Why is this Important?
The famously frugal ISRO now hopes to set an enviable benchmark for space fairing nations. Putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is a growing business. That’s because phone, Internet and other companies as well as countries, are seeking greater and more high-tech communications.
ISRO sent an unmanned rocket to orbit Mars in 2013 at a cost of just $73 million, compared with NASA’s Maven Mars mission which had a $671 million price tag. Hence pricing works in India’s favor. ISRO is also mulling missions to Jupiter and Venus. The second mission to Mars is tentatively slated for 2021-2022 and as per existing plans, it may involve positioning of a robot on the surface of the Red Planet.
The Indian Government is highly satisfied with ISRO’s progress and in the recently announced annual budget, the power that be gave the space agency a 23% increase in budgetary allocation.
ISRO till now
So far, ISRO has launched 226 satellites, including 179 belonging to foreign countries. ISRO is planning to launch two satellites, including the one meant for the benefit of SAARC nations, in March and April.
ISRO chairman says US-based companies prefer ISRO’s launch vehicles to inject its nano satellites so that its costs of access to space are reduced. Rakesh, CMD of Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of ISRO, said orders worth Rs 500 and Rs 600 crore have been received from international customers.
The Spatial Tryst:
While for a satellite launcsh, SpaceX, an American aero-space manufacturer and space transport services company , charges aroung USD 60 MILLION, ISRO charged an average of USD 3 MILLION per satellite between 2013 And 2015. Due to foreign satellite launched, the forex revenue for ISRO commercial arm, Antrix corporation went up 204.9% in 2015. In the 2016-2017 FY, Commercial launches brought in RS 230 Crore.
G Madhavan Nair, Ex- ISRO Chief said,
‘This is no new technology. ISRO started with ten satellites (on board a single rocket), then went to 18 or something and then it’s 35. Now it’s 100. If you make 3 or 4 kg satellite , it (PSLV) can take 300 to 400 satellites at a time. This number (104 Satellites) has not demonstrated any new technology; it’s a proven technology which is being used. One worry, though, is that these (103 satellites) are tiny satellites which at the best can have a life of one or two years; after that, it really becomes space debris. Since they are small in size, they may not be amenable for tracking and finding out their positions and things like that. They become passive. To that extent, that worry is there.
And the series of launching of satellites are as follows:
- At 9:28 AM, PSLV- C37/Cartosat-2 series satellite successfully launched from Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota.
- 30 Minutes later, Other 103 nano satellites including 96 from US –Launched.
Total 1377 kg of weight carried on board PSLV- C37.
It is proud moment for all Indians. We should salute to ISRO for this initiative and successful launch.