India to set record with 104 satellites launched aboard single rocket
The launch will take place on Wednesday, and will involve one massive satellite weighing around 714kg, and 103 smaller ‘nano-satellites’ with a combined weight of 664kg. The rocket will lift off from the Sriharikota spaceport, according to a Tuesday statement by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), cited by AFP.
The main Earth observation satellite is said to be domestically-built, while other smaller ones are from places as diverse as Kazakhstan, the Netherlands and the UAE, as well as the US, which built 96 of the satellites.
India is looking to compete with other major players in securing its own share of the rapidly-expanding telecom market. It is also known for having a particularly low-cost space program, which sets records regularly.
Aside from this year’s proposed record launch, India set a new national landmark last year with a 20-satellite launch on a single rocket.
And unlike NASA’s costly Curiosity rover and accompanying Mars mission, India sent a satellite to orbit the Red Planet in 2013 for a relatively cheap $73 million. Compare that with the Americans, who spent $671 million on theirs.
In addition, India is responsible for some of the cheapest satellite launches on Earth.
But the ISRO isn’t resting on its laurels. The organization is looking to mount its own missions to Venus and Jupiter in the near future, similar to what NASA is planning.