That soared past a previous record of just 37 satellites tucked into a single Russian rocket launch in 2014. India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) thundered into the sky above India’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 10:58 pm EST last night. Sitting atop the rocket was just over 3,000 pounds of satellites. Three from India and another 101 nanosats from five other countries.
Check out the launch below.
The 104 satellites aboard the Indian rocket
A tweet from the Indian Space Research Organization tells us what kind of satellites were launched and who built them.
The vast majority of them were Dove Satellites from the U.S.-based Planet. Dubbed “Flock 3p,” the 88 Dove satellites helped set two new world records. The biggest single satellite launch in history and Planet now owns the largest private satellite constellation in history with 149 satellites in space.
“With these satellites in orbit, Planet will reach its Mission 1: the ability to image all of Earth’s landmass every day,” Planet said in a statement.
Check out a pair of Dove Satellites moments after being deployed from the ISS in May 2016.
Each one houses a camera capable of imaging Earth at resolutions of 3-5 meters. Every satellite completes one orbit of Earth every 90 minutes. That’s about 16 orbits every day. With 149 satellites making up the constellation it’s easy to see how the satellites can image all of Earth’s landmass every day.
And the images they capture are incredible. Here’s Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala on January 25.
Brussels, Belgium about a week earlier.
And Key West, Florida on January 3.
The 8 LEMUR satellites from U.S.-based Spire Global will be used to monitor ship traffic and offer meteorology data. Data gathered by these satellites can be used for everything from monitoring illegal fishing to search and rescue.
The rest of the nanosats ranged from student projects to small satellites conducting science experiments.
While launching 104 satellites is an impressive feat, yesterday’s primary mission was Cartosat 2D. A 1,574-pound mapping satellite that will offer critical mapping capabilities to help plan infrastructure, track water usage and more.
India proves once again they’re no slouches when it comes to reaching space. NASA and companies like SpaceX often steal the headlines, but there are other agencies and companies making huge strides in the journey to the final frontier.