Isro has done commendable job

The Indian Space Research Organisation has made another landmark achievement by successfully sending into space a record 104 satellites from a single launch vehicle. The event has both technical and commercial value of a high order. The Isro has broken an existing record of the launch of 37 satellites in a single mission by Russia and has reaffirmed its reputation for cheap satellite launches. The satellites launched on Wednesday were from a number of countries including the US, Israel, Switzerland and Kazakhstan, apart from three Indian satellites. Out of the 104 satellites, 103 were nano satellites of the total payload weighed about 1,400 kg. Releasing them into different orbits at different trajectories was a complex task but it was done perfectly. The Isro plans to set up a platform for nano satellites which can be used by universities and laboratories for scientific research. There is a big market for launch of mini and nano satellites which are considered to be better placed to do some jobs than larger ones. The Isro will be able to tap this growing market more effectively than in the past with this achievement. Customers who include private companies, universities and laboratories will gain from low costs and the Isro will have the advantage of economies of scale.

The launches were made with Isro’s reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket which has put hundreds of satellites into orbit in successful missions. But the PSLV has limitations of power and it cannot carry loads much above its present capabilities. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), which can carry much higher payloads, needs to be perfected and put into operation. The space agency has mastered the cryogenic technology for GSLV rockets but it has yet to fully operationalise it by developing the GSLV-Mark III version. Launching heavier rockets is also more profitable. All major space powers have the capability to launch heavy payloads. These enhanced capabilities are also needed for explorations of outer space.

The Isro will also have to keep pace with the changes in space technology and develop new technologies to stay competitive. Launch costs are coming down the world over. Private enterprises like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have made a mark in the field. The reusable rocket being developed by SpaceX will slash launch costs dramatically. The Isro’s reusable rocket plan is still at an elementary stage. The agency has taken the country ahead and made it proud with achievements like the Chandrayaan mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission and its many other scientific and commercial launches. It should continue to stay in the race not just in terms of costs but of technology, too.

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