India successfully put a record 104 satellites from a single rocket into orbit on Wednesday in the latest triumph for its famously frugal space agency.
“My hearty congratulations to the ISRO team for this success,” the agency’s director Kiran Kumar told those gathered in an observatory to track the progress of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately congratulated the scientists for the successful launch which smashes a record previously held by Russia.
“This remarkable feat … is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India salutes our scientists,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
The rocket took off at 9:28am (0358 GMT) and cruised at a speed of 27,000 kilometres (16,777) per hour, ejecting all the 104 satellites into orbit in around 30 minutes, according to ISRO.
The rocket’s main cargo was a 714 kilogram satellite for Earth observation but it was also loaded with 103 smaller “nano satellites”, weighing a combined 664 kilograms. The smallest weighed only 1.1 kilogram.
Nearly all of the nano satellites are from other countries, including Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and 96 from the United States.
Around 90 of the satellites are from a San Francisco-based company, Planet Inc. each weighing around 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) that will send Earth images from space.
Only three satellites belonged to India.