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Indian space agency breaks satellite launch record

The Indian Space Research Organisation has broken the world record for launching simultaneous satellites into orbit around the Earth. Taking off in the early hours of this morning, the Polar Satellite Launch vehicle PSLV-C37 hauled 104 satellites out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Three satellites were for Indian use, while the other 101 belong to international entities.

India’s $15 million PSLV launches have had 37 successes over the past few years and have many people considering it as an emerging power in the new commercial space race. It hasn’t had a mission failure with its launch vehicle since 1997, and this latest launch only serves to solidify the reliability and potential of its rocketry.

The previous satellite launch record aboard a single rocket was 37, launched by Russia in 2014. The PSLV-C37 launch easily outstrips that and sets a high bar for any other countries or companies looking to break it.

Of the total, 96 of the nano-satellites belong to U.S. entities. With three Indian ones aboard too, the rest of the satellites belong to Israel, Kazakhstan, the UAE, Switzerland and the Netherlands. One of the Indian-controlled satellites is said to be designed to take high-resolution images and will be used to monitor India’s borders with what the Indian Economic Times calls its, “hostile neighbours,” Pakistan and China.

Although the rocket launch vehicle is entirely expendable, it has proved very reliable and with a relatively low-cost per launch, India has emerged as a very real alternative to Russian and American rockets for low-Earth and geosynchronous orbital launches.

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KitGuru Says: More competition in the new space race is likely to be a good thing. Especially if it can give more developing nations a foothold in space. Democratising the stars is important to help prevent a new age of colonialism beyond Earth’s bounds. 

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