India’s space agency launched 104 satellites, including 101 foreign payloads, into orbit on Wednesday setting a new world record for the most satellites released in one go.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, made by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), took off at 9.28 a.m. (0358 GMT) from the Sriharikota spaceport near Chennai on India’s south-eastern coast and placed the satellites in their prescribed orbits about 30 minutes later, officials said.
“It is a great moment for us … It is confirmed now that all 104 satellites have been successfully deployed in orbit,” mission director B Jayakumar announced at the observatory amid applause and cheering by the scientists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the scientists on what he called an “exceptional achievement.”
“This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists,” Modi said.
The rocket carried three satellites from India and 101 smaller nano satellites, including 96 from the United States and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
With Wednesday’s launch, the Indian space agency mission broke the existing record of 37 satellites sent into orbit from a single Russian rocket in 2014.
The Indian Cartosat-II series satellites, cartographic and earth-observation satellites were the first to be released into low-earth orbits.
Media reports say the payloads are built to monitor activities of India’s neighbouring rivals, Pakistan and China.
In recent years, India has used its trusted rocket technology to provide low-cost satellite launches, joining the relatively few players in the multi-billion-dollar space launch market.
Before Wednesday, ISRO had launched 122 satellites into orbit, including 43 from India and 79 from foreign nations, using its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket since 1999.
The launch marks another milestone in India’s ambitious space programme, that has sent probes to the Moon and Mars in recent years.