It promises to be an Indian space mission which will rocket instantly into global history books. If all goes well, on January 15, 2017, Isro will launch 82 foreign satellites in a daring single shot, Subbiah Arunan, the project director of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), has said.
Arunan, who was in Mumbai to attend the Brand India Summit 2016, said on Thursday that of the 82 satellites, 60 belong to the US, 20 are from Europe and two are UK-made.
The record for launching the highest number of satellites in one go is currently held by Russia, which launched 37 satellites on June 19, 2014. The US had placed 29 satellites in orbit using the Orbital Sciences-built Minotaur-1 rocket on November 19, 2013. On June 22, 2016, India launched 20 satellites in one go. If the mission in January succeeds, India will once again break a global space record — for the second time in about two-and-a-half years.
On September 24, 2014, in a record-breaking feat, India entered the Martian orbit in the very first attempt, garnering international acclaim.
The rocket for Isro’s historic mission will be the advanced version of the proven four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) designated PSLV-XL. All 82 satellites will be placed in a 580-km polar sun synchronous orbit in a span of 20-25 minutes after launch.
Arunan told TOI that MOM was the first Indian satellite which is being analysed by international space agencies and management schools to pave the way for low-cost access to deep space. He added that the second mission to Mars — MOM-2 — is provisionally slated for launch in 2020.
“We plan to use the aerobraking method to approach Mars and go close to the surface,” Arunan said, pointing out that it will not be a landing mission. “We have, so far, received nearly 40 proposals for carrying out Mars-related science experiments and the response is very encouraging,” he said.
Arunan also said that the second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, will land on the moon by December 2018. “The ground tests have already started,” he said.