India has successfully sent 20 satellites into space in a single mission, a record-breaking event for the country’s space agency that received its premier’s warm praise.
The launch took place in the Satish Dhawan Space Center in the Sriharikota barrier island off the Bay of Bengal coast, located in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, on Wednesday morning, said the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in a statement.
The 320-ton PSLV-C34 rocket, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, blasted off from the Second Launch Pad in the facility and carried with it the 727 kilogram (1602 pounds) Indian Earth observation satellite called Cartosat, the main passenger, along with 19 other satellites, to space, it added.
“The total weight of all the 20 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C34 was 1288 kilogram,” the statement further said.
According to the statement, two of the satellites were from Indian universities, and the remaining 17 co-passenger satellites “were international customer satellites from Canada (2), Germany (1), Indonesia (1) and the United States (13),” it added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the “monumental accomplishment,” saying, “Our space program has time and again shown the transformative potential of science & technology in people’s lives.”
Russia has the unbroken record of sending up to 37 satellites into space in a single mission, while NASA stands second as it has so far managed to send 29 satellites in a single mission.
India, fervently competing with major international players to grab a greater share of the launch market, is known for its low-cost space programs. Last month, it launched its first mini space shuttle on a budget of only $14 million, which is dwarfed by huge budgets spent by other nations on their space programs.
Back in 2013, it also sent an unmanned rocket to orbit Mars on a low budget of just $73 million, compared with NASA’s $671 million Maven Mars mission.