The 28-hour countdown began on Tuesday for the attempt of PLSV-C37 ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) to launch a record 104 satellites on board a single rocket. India's rocket will launch from the spaceport of Sriharikota, about 125 km from Chennai. If successful, the record-breaking feat will cement India's space reputation after its successful Mars orbiter mission.
ISRO commenced the countdown for the mission at 5:28 AM just after the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board gave its approval. Scientists then have commenced filling propellant for the rocket.This would be the space agency’s 39th mission.
The 104 satellites to be carried by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C37 (PSLV-C37) ISRO belong to international customers. Compared to successful launch by the Russian Space Agency in 2014, launching 37 satellites in one go, India attempts to launch triple that record. It will also mark ISRO’s second successful attempt in June 2015 after launching 23 satellites in one go, CNN reports.
India plans to have the rocket first launch the 714 kg CARTOSAT-2 Series satellite for earth observation and then inject 103 co-passenger satellites weighing about 664 kg about 520 km from Earth. Of 101 co-passenger satellites, 96 belong to USA, and five from International customers such as Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates. India also has two other nano satellites of their own riding piggyback in the rocket, making the total weigh at about 1,378 kg, The Indian Express reports.
Ambitious space endeavors have sparked the interest of other asian countries like China and Japan, which have both outlined bold space exploration plans for 2017 and beyond. South Korea, a smaller country, also have announced interest on developing their own space programs. The increasing competition, led by ISRO, for space-related power and prestige in Asia have made space specialists say that the real space race is in Asia.