India took a big leap in space technology on Wednesday when Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) used its workhorse PSLV-C34 to inject 20 satellites including 17 foreign satellites into orbit in a single mission and set a new record.
The 320-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) took off on its 36th flight at 9.26am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre with 20 satellites including its primary payload Cartosat-2 series, which provides remote sensing services, and earth observation and imaging satellites from US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia. It was also 14th flight of PSLV in 'XL'configuration with the use of solid strap-on motors.
Cartosat-2 was placed in orbit at 9.44am. With Cartosat-2 weighing 727.5kg, PSLV lifted off a total of 1,288kg in to space and began placing the satellites into orbit about 17minutes later.
In the final stages of the mission, ISRO also demonstrated the vehicle's capability to place satellites in different orbits. In the demonstration, the vehicle reignited twice after its fourth and final stage and moved further a few kilometres into another orbit.
Isro scientists said the demonstration is for their next mission when they are planning to inject satellites in different orbits using a single rocket.
Isro set a world record for the highest number of satellites launched in a single mission when it placed 10 satellites in a PSLV on April 28, 2008. Nasa in 2013 placed 29 satellites in a single mission and Russia in 2014 launched 33 satellites in one launch.
In December 2015, when PSLV-C29 injected six Singapore satellites in to orbit, Isro conducted a major experiment where the fourth stage was reignited and switched off after the satellites were placed in orbit.
Apart from Cartosat-2, the satellites launched on Wednesday include Lapan-A3 from Indonesia, Biros from Germany, M3MSat from Canada, SkySat Gen2-1, a Google-made satellite from USA, GHGSat-D from Canada, 12 Dove satellites from USA, Sathyabamasat from Sathyabhama University, Chennai and Swayam from College of Engineering, Pune.