Indian Space Research Organization has yet again demonstrated its great potential and outstanding capabilities. This time it set another world record. For the first time in the history of the mankind, so many (more than a hundred) satellites were launched in a single mission. This was the first mission conducted by ISRO in 2017. At 9.28 am on the 15th February 2017, ISRO successfully launched 104 satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota – a tiny barrier island on the Bay of Bengal (Andhra Pradesh). The number looks even more mind-blowing when we see the holder of the previous record – in 2014 Russia launched just 37 satellites. Almost one-third of what India just did! ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar said that the goal was not to set a new record: “We are not looking at it as a record or anything like that; we are just trying to maximize our capability with each launch, in trying to utilize that launch for the ability it has got and getting the maximum return.”
International media on ISRO achievements
The reaction of the world media was very critical. Most of them were actually talking about the poor people of India and saying if India actually needs a space program. The same questions were raised when India successfully reached the Mars in its maiden voyage , something which had never been accomplished before in the modern human history. India’s mission to Mars cost less than a Hollywood movie “Gravity” and ISRO spent 600mln USD lesser than NASA! According to the statistics from 2011, almost 17 million kids in the USA were living in food insecure households while their country was spending billions in their space program. The international journalists need to know that – all these ISRO’s missions are going to help India’s economy by using innovations in communication services. Other countries will be buying technologies from India or will just pay them to launch their own satellite – and actually, it is already happening! If you are wondering, why the international media is unfair to India, I suggest you to watch this film- Why is the international media unfair to media?
Launch of 104 satellites
Originally ISRO wanted to launch 68 satellites. Gradually, more satellites were added making the project even a bigger challenge. And then the final decision was made – 104 satellites and the PSLV-C37 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket which is 44.4 m tall and weighs 320 tones injected in a single mission. The heaviest one was 714kg Cartosat-2 Series satellite dedicated for earth observation – the Cartosat Series satellites are launched to provide images which are later used for road network monitoring and creating maps. Among the remaining 103 co-passengers nano satellites, 96 from the USA, one each from Kazakhstan, Israel, United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, Switzerland and 2 from India (INS-1A and INS-1B).
So, how come this was possible? The truth is that it is all about a proper usage of the space available in the launch vehicle and also about the carrying capacity of the rocket. But it is not as easy as it may seem. It requires great skill and some genius brains out there to achieve something of this scale and Indians for some time have been demonstrating their skills pretty well as far as the space science is concerned. All the satellites were arranged in a proper configuration, so later when they were ejected in the space they would not collide with each other. And ISRO did it perfectly. In our times when more and more countries want to have their own different satellites in the space, these sort of missions are becoming more important as overall, all the space organizations want to save money and sending 100 satellites in a single mission requires lesser costs.
Ancient space science
Who would have thought in 1969 when ISRO was formed that in the 21st century it would be setting brand new standards in space science? Who would have thought that a country which had long been at the receiving end of so many abuses by the invaders would be creating world records? ISRO started slowly but their current pace and achievements are stunning the whole world. But Indians are probably inspired from their own past – just look at the great Observatory in Jaipur which was used for observation of constellation and stars in the sky. Even in Rig Vedas there are many references to astronomy. Even though the scholars claim that all the ancient civilizations thought that Earth was the center of the universe with stars and sun revolving around it, you can find Vedic descriptions which are talking about the universe in a very detailed way, mentioning that all planets and the Sun have their own orbits. Ancient Indians already knew that our earth is not flat but it is a globe. In Vedanga Jyotisha, the Sun and the Moon are described in a very detailed way. We should also not forget about the great “vimanas” – airships which not only could fly but they could also transfer humans from one planet to another. But the topic of the great ancient science of India is very wide so stay tuned as I will be talking about it separately.
Plans for the future
ISRO has stunned the world with its great accomplishment. And for ISRO it is just a small milestone of a long journey that they have undertaken, as in not so distant future, they are expecting another Mars mission and also aiming a mind-boggling feat of sending a mission to the Venus. On the 28th December 2017, we may witness another record – this time PSLV will carry 3 rovers to the Moon as the current record is of carrying just 1. With so much of exciting stuff in their pipeline, all I can say is that ISRO does seem to have an amazing future.
You may also want to go through this film which talks about the journey of ISRO-