The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) consolidated its position as a commercial satellite launch global leader after successfully hauling into orbit five British satellites simultaneously on Friday night, July 10.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket (PSLV C28) took 19 minutes after blast off at 9.58 pm, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, near Chennai, to place its collective 1.4 tonne payload in orbiting position. The multiple satellite launch broke a record for ISRO as its heaviest satellite launch ever.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded ISRO scientists from his Twitter account, tweeting to his 13.6 million followers: “Successful launch of PSLV-C28 with 5 UK satellites is a moment of immense pride & joy for India. Congratulations to the @isro team.”

India's PSLV C28 satellite mission blasting off into the July night; Image courtesy ISRO
India’s PSLV C28 satellite mission blasting off into the July night; Image courtesy ISRO

ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar informed reporters that the Friday multiple-satellite launch was its 120th successful space mission and 74th satellite launch. India’s space agency declared a hectic launch schedule of 28 satellites, belonging to seven countries, within the next three years.

However despite breaking its commercial satellite launch weight record, ISRO still has some distance to go to match more heavy weight payload technology, as Kumar pointed out. The heaviest international satellite launches average six tonnes, he said, compared to the present ISRO limit of 1.7 tonnes.

The ISRO chief offered updates on India’s historic Mars orbiter Mangalyaan. Asia’s first Mars satellite, Mangalyaan, is operating in good condition around the red planet, after a 15-day break in communication. “We are back on track (with Mangalyaan),” Kumar said. “Now operations have resumed. Having crossed this hurdle we expect the longevity of the satellite to be normal, and the satellite is in good health”.

The ISRO has ongoing “realization phase” work for a second moon mission of Chandrayaan-2, as well as another inter-planetary mission to Mars or Venus. “Or we should look at asteroids,” Kumar said. “There is a science team which is going through this discussion.”

The ISRO has its next major satellite launch August, using its Geo Stationery Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-Mark II) rocket, and three more navigational satellites before March 2016. “The Satellite has already reached Sriharikota and is going through final tests,”ISRO chairman Kumar said. “We plan to make the next launch in August.”

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