India launches 20 satellites in single mission
India has successfully launched a rocket carrying a record 20 satellites, as its space agency looks to grab a larger slice of the lucrative commercial space market.
The rocket carries the highest ever number of satellites on a single Indian mission and the third highest in history.
It blasted off yesterday from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota, carrying satellites from the United States (U.S.), Germany, Canada and Indonesia.
Most of the satellites will enter orbit to observe and measure the Earth’s atmosphere, while one of them aims to provide service for amateur radio operators.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known to be highly ambitious about the country’s space research programme, described the launch as “a monumental accomplishment” for the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
ISRO chairman, AS Kiran Kumar, told the national NDTV news network that:”Each of these small objects that you are putting into space will carry out their own activity, which is independent of the other, and each of them will live a wonderful life for a finite period.”
The business of putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is globally growing as phone, Internet and other companies, as well as countries, seek greater and more high-tech communications.
In 2008, India launched 10 satellites on one rocket, setting a world record that has since been broken by the United States and then Russia. Russia still holds the record with 37 satellites.