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India Breaks Record for Launching Most Satellites from Single Rocket

India’s space agency on Wednesday reached a new milestone by launching a record 104 satellites using a single rocket.

The satellites, from seven countries, were carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle of the Indian Space Research Organization. It was the 39th successful launch of the agency’s workhorse rocket.

The feat eclipses the record set by Russia in 2014 when it launched 37 satellites in a single mission. A National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket carried 29 satellites in 2013.

The PSLV rocket blasted off successfully from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh at 9.28 a.m. Wednesday local time (10.58 p.m. Tuesday ET)

The rocket’s main cargo was ISRO’s 714 kilogram Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation. The remaining satellites had a combined weight of 664 kilograms. Of the other 103 satellites, one each were from Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and 96 from the U.S. Two nano satellites belong to ISRO.

ISRO’s two smaller satellites are carrying a total of four different payloads for conducting various experiments.

“Separation of all 104 satellites confirmed,” an ISRO scientist announced at the Satish Dhawan Space Center, signaling the mission’s success.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted congratulations.

Mission Director B. Jayakumar said it was challenge to “find real estate (on the PSLV rocket) to accommodate all the satellites.” He said a “unique separation sequence” was designed due to the large number of satellites.

Mr. Jayakumar said in January that ISRO had devised a special strategy of releasing the satellites by maintaining different angles for each satellite.

Including the latest launch, ISRO has put 226 satellites in orbit, including 179 from foreign nations.

It bolsters India’s position as a reliable and cost-effective option for launching satellites. In 2014, ISRO put a satellite into the orbit of Mars, becoming the first Asian country to reach the red planet, and at fraction of the cost of a similar launch in U.S. and Europe.

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(via WSJ)