VSSC Director explains how Isro will place record-breaking 103 satellites in orbit in February

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will set a new world record next month if its plan to launch 103 satellites from a single launch vehicle succeeds. This number far exceeds the previous record of 37 satellites set by a Russian launch vehicle.

The launch is scheduled for February.

Speaking to The Hindustan Times, Dr K. Sivan, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre explains that the satellites will be launched in a staggered manner at various separation angles, velocities and orientations.

The satellites will apparently be launched at a “relative velocity of 1 m/s” to the launch vehicle. As Dr Sivan explains, even a one degree separation angle is enough to ensure that the satellites don’t collide.

The satellites are to be launched at an altitude of 500 km. For reference, the International Space Station orbits the Earth at a height of around 400 km. A geostationary orbit on the other hand, is located 35,786 km above the Earth’s equator.

Dr Sivan goes on to explain that at 500 km, the rocket would only need 90 minutes to complete one orbit. This, he says, is ample time to launch all 103 satellites. Of those 103 satellites, only 3 are Indian.

The satellites will be launched from India’s PSLV (C37) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The PSLV program is among the cheapest, yet most successful operational launch vehicle in the world today.

If successful, the Isro mission will increase the total number of operational satellites by 10 percent. The current figure stands at 1,100 operational satellites.

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