Yesterday, India blew away all previous records for launching multiple satellites at one time. Watching each of these little guys with their own individual purposes flood the sky and kick the country's space program into overdrive is just as neat as it sounds.
Today, a four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will blast off from India's southern spaceport with 104 satellites on board. Should all go well, the Indian Space Research Organisation will establish a new satellite delivery record for a single mission — and by a long shot.
India has big plans for space travel, with a goal of travelling to Jupiter and Venus in the future. One way they're hoping to achieve that is by keeping costs down with low labour expenditures and international partnerships. Back in 2013, the Indian Space Research Organisation sent a satellite to Mars for $US600 million ($779 million) less than a comparable mission by NASA. This time, the ISRO partnered with six other countries for its onboard payload. The Guardian breaks down how the cargo was divided up on the four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle:
On board was a 714kg satellite for earth observation and more than 100 smaller satellites weighing less than 10kg each. Three were Indian-owned, 96 were from US companies, and the rest belonged to companies based in Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
Most were owned by Planet Labs Inc, a US-based Earth-imaging company.
The previous record holder was Russia with 37 satellites sent into orbit at once in 2014. But records aren't the ISRO's primary focus. Kiran Kumar, chair of the space agency, tells the Guardian, "We are just trying to maximise our capability with each launch and trying to utilise that launch for the ability it has got, and get the maximum in return."
Watch it all go down below. The actual separation starts around the 1:10 mark. If the new age-y inspirational music isn't your cup of tea, you can watch a hyped-up EDM-fuelled version here.