India launches 100th home-grown satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifting off from Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh state yesterday.
The Indian Space Research Organisation's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifting off from Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh state yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Milestone comes amid push by Modi govt to win larger share of global space industry

NEW DELHI • India launched its 100th indigenously made satellite yesterday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to project the country as a global low-cost provider of services in space.

India has carried out dozens of satellite launches since 1999, carrying more than 200 satellites for countries around the globe, according to data from the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

In February last year, the ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single mission, most of them for foreign customers.

Yesterday's launch lifted a total of 31 small satellites into space.

More than half of the micro and nano satellites launched were for the United States, with the remainder for India, Canada, Finland, France, South Korea and Britain, Reuters reported.

"The launch of the 100th satellite by (the ISRO) signifies both its glorious achievements and also the bright future of India's space programme," Mr Modi said on Twitter.

India's space programme has a budget of around US$4 billion (S$5.3 billion) and the Modi government hopes that the latest launches will improve its prospects of winning a larger share of the more than US$300 billion global space industry.

The ISRO used its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40), which is part of an advanced remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 series or "eye in the sky", for yesterday's launch, which took place at Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh state at 9.28am local time.

The rocket weighs about 1,323kg, said a senior official at the ISRO, who did not wish to be named, Reuters said.

India will use its latest satellites for better border surveillance and to obtain high-resolution images of the earth.

"PSLV-C40 is a highly sophisticated surveillance tool to keep an eye on Indian borders and will help the government track progress of infrastructure projects," science writer Pallava Bagla, the co-author of Reaching For The Stars: India's Journey To Mars, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Two scientists at the ISRO said that the images collected by the satellites will be used by Indian security agencies to track military activities in neighbouring Pakistan, China, Bangladesh Sri Lanka and Nepal, according to Reuters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline 'India launches 100th home-grown satellite'. Print Edition | Subscribe