TIRUPATI: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch a record 103 satellites at one go, using its launch vehicle PSLV-C37, in the first week of February, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet South Asian satellite project will take off in March.

As many as 100 of the satellites to be launched next month belong to foreign nations, including the US and Germany.

“We are making a century by launching over 100 satellites at one go,” said S. Somnath, the director of the ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

The space agency had earlier planned a launch of 83 satellites in the last week of January, of which 80 were foreign ones. But with the addition of 20 foreign satellites, the launch was delayed by a week and would now take place in first week of February, Somnath said.

He did not specify the number of countries that would have their satellites launched in the mission, but said they included nations like the US and Germany.

“These will be 100 micro-small satellites, which will be launched using a PSLV-C37.

The weight of the payload will be 1,350kg,” Somnath added.

The launch will be a major feat in India’s space history as no exercise on this scale has been attempted before. Last year the ISRO launched 22 satellites at one go.

Meanwhile, the South Asian satellite would be part of the GSAT-9, which would be launched in March this year, said M. Nageshwara Rao, an associate director of ISRO.

The communications satellite was to be launched in December, but was delayed as some other satellites were to be launched before that.

Envisaged as a gift to its neighbours, the project, earlier known as Saarc satellite, faced resistance from Pakistan, according to sources. The neighbouring country wanted it to be launched under the aegis of the South Asian regional forum. It later quit the project.

Apart from India, the satellite will benefit Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

—By arrangement with the Times of India

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2017

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