ISRO Indian Space Research Organisation’s 100th Launch

The PSLV, costing around Rs.90 crore, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, around 80 km from Chennai.  Exactly at 9.53 am, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C21 (PSLV-C21), 44 metres tall and weighing around 230 tonnes, soared into the skies carrying the two satellites – SPOT 6, a 712-kg French earth observation satellite, and Proiteres, a 15-kg Japanese micro satellite.

At around 18 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C21 delivered SPOT 6 and a few seconds later Proiteres into their intended polar orbits.  The mission was delayed by two minutes as India’s Intertial Navigation System, which guides rockets and helps them put satellites in orbits with pinpoint precision, relayed an alert of a possible collision with space debris.  Meanwhile, ISRO has decided to set up a Multi Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) to track space debris and time its rocket launches precisely.

ISRO is also planning to have a second vehicle (rocket) assembly building to increase launch frequency, and that ISRO would also build two more communication satellites – GSAT 15 and GSAT 16 – to augment its transponder (transmitters that receive and send signals) capacity. Till date, ISRO has successfully launched 27 foreign satellites and the Sunday mission took the tally to 29.

Its amazing that over a period of 37 years, 100 launches of various satellites has been completed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). For a developed nation, it must be normal news. But for a country like India who just 20 odd years ago was talked about more for the various issue plaguing the country (they haven’t vanisehed), today is being talked in a different tone.  Ya, there are criticisms, there are problems that still need to be addressed.  Corruption being the main issue which is keeping a significant majority of the population in poverty. A large unemployed population, a country with the largest youth population who can cause social disorders if they are not gainfully employed, India has a host of issues to tackle.

Its in this light that the 100th satellite launch by ISRO needs to be seen.  The first ever satellite sent into space by ISRO was in 1975 when the then Soviet Union helped launch the Aryabhatta satellite using the Soviet Intercosmos Rocket.  The weight of the satellite was 360 kgs and its objectives were to design and fabricate a space worthy satellite system and to evaluate its performance (source: Centre of Studies in Resource Engineering).

pslv c21

From using the French Guyana and Russian space infrastructure to send satellites in space to itself launching French (SPOT6) and Japanese (PROITERES) satellites with the PSLV-C21 rockets on the 9th of September 2012, ISRO has really come a very long way.

The budget of ISRO compared to its peers in Europe and NASA is peanuts and it is in that context that the performance of ISRO needs to be appreciated.  Successive governments have balanced their social responsibilities with approving the budgets for ISRO to keep the organization running.  Though its easy for some armchair critics to come on TV and lambast the government and ISRO for aiming high and spending money when they believe the money could be better spent for social causes.

What they hardly realize is that the amount of economic, medical and military benefits that India has accumulated due to the research done in the space industry that its really difficult to quantify.

From telemedicine to direct to home television to cellphone technology to missile tracking to tracking weather and monsoons to keeping track of the flora and fauna of the country to keeping the sea lanes safe and secure with maritime tracking to air traffic control, the amount of technological advances India has made due to its investments in the space industry is simply incomprehensible.

Payloads of PSLV-C21

The 100th launch was courtesy the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which was in its 22nd flight and launched the following satellites into space.

SPOT6 – Was a French earth observation satellite with a lift off mass of 712 kgs and was the heaviest satellite ever to be launched by PSLV. It’s the latest generation optical remote sensing satellite built by the Astrium SAS, a leading European space technology company.


PROITERS – Was a Japanese micro satellite that was carried as an auxiliary payload with a lift off mass of 15 kgs.  Its intended to study powered flight of a small satellite by an electric thruster and observe the Kansai district in Japan with a high-resolution camera.

These were the 28th and 29th satellites of other countries launched by ISRO.  The others being

Sl No Satellite Name Country Launch Date Mass (Kgs) Launch Vehicle
1 DLR-TUBSAT Germany 26/05/1999 45 PSLV-C2
2 KITSAT-3 Rep of Korea 26/05/1999 110 PSLV-C2
3 BIRD Germany 22/10/2001 92 PSLV-C3
4 PROBA Belgium 22/10/2001 94 PSLV-C3
5 LAPAN-TUBSAT Indonesia 10/01/2007 56 PSLV-C7
6 PEHUENSAT-1 Argentina 10/01/2007 6 PSLV-C7
7 AGILE Italy 23/04/2007 350 PSLV-C8
8 TECSAR Israel 21/01/2008 300 PSLV-C10
9 CAN-X2 Canada 28/04/2008 7 PSLV-C9
10 CUTE-1.7 Japan 28/04/2008 5 PSLV-C9
11 DELFI-C3 Netherlands 28/04/2008 6.5 PSLV-C9
12 AAUSAT-II Denmark 28/04/2008 3 PSLV-C9
13 COMPASS-I Germany 28/04/2008 3 PSLV-C9
14 SEEDS Japan 28/04/2008 3 PSLV-C9
15 NLS-5 Canada 28/04/2008 16 PSLV-C9
16 RUBIN-8 Germany 28/04/2008 8 PSLV-C9
17 CUBESAT-1 Germany 23/09/2009 1 PSLV-C14
18 CUBESAT-2 Germany 23/09/2009 1 PSLV-C14
19 CUBESAT-3 Turkey 23/09/2009 1 PSLV-C14
20 CUBESAT-4 Switzerland 23/09/2009 1 PSLV-C14
21 RUBIN-9.1 Germany 23/09/2009 1 PSLV-C14
22 RUBIN-9.2 Germany 23/09/2009 1 PSLV-C14
23 ALSAT-2A Algeria 12/07/2010 116 PSLV-C15
24 NLS-6.1 AISSAT-1 Canada 12/07/2010 6.5 PSLV-C15
25 NLS-6.2 TISAT-1 Switzerland 12/07/2010 1 PSLV-C15
26 X-SAT Singapore 20/04/2011 106 PSLV-C16
27 VESSELSAT-1 Luxembourg 12/10/2011 28.7 PSLV-C18

Source: ISRO website

Previous posts on ISRO here

ISRO launches Oceansat-2 and 6 nano satellites
India’s spy satellite RISAT launched
Moon Impact Probe reaches the moon
Chandrayaan enters lunar orbit
ISRO to launch 10 satellites at one go
India launches Israel’s spy satellite
Isro plans a S.Asia GPS with 7 satellites
Tata-ISRO team to launch hydrogen car in 2008



  1. B K Chowla says:

    India is scoring in this field internationally.
    The entire team needs to be complimented

  2. It’s good to see that ISRO is able to live up to the expectations for PSLV launches. I guess they are struggling big-time with GSLV though. I wonder how many components are manufactured indigenously and how many are sourced from other countries.

    Do you think these ‘me-too’ chandraiyan missions are worth it? They might as well invest the amount spent on space exploration projects (which is being done excellently by NASA) to commercial ventures like carrying satellite payloads.

    Destination Infinity

  3. Liju Philip says:

    I too want to do some research on how much of the components of ISRO’s rockets/satellites are indigenous. Afterall, there is no point buying stuff and assembling them. There is obviously a lot to learn from the moon and mars missions, but should so much money be invested is always up to debate. For any country to develop, the scientific community has to be at least 10 steps ahead of the rest and there is bound to be disagreements and criticism. Its natural.

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