India took its space program to the next level with the launch of 104 satellites into orbit. Image: Pinterest.

India has surpassed Russia and all of the other countries in the space race by putting 104 satellites into orbit at once. The launch took place at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Andhra Pradesh, South India.

The 96 satellites belong to other countries including the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, and many others. India launched only the remaining eight. The machines will aid with telecommunication efforts worldwide.

The Indian Space Program seems to be thriving. The country faces widespread poverty and has received intense criticism for its repeated spending on rocket launches. However, India’s commercial space policy is only giving them more money.

India packed 104 satellites in a single rocket

In a previous launch, India had managed to put 20 satellites into orbit with a single rocket, which became the current world record. The country could not surpass Russia, which sent 37 space crafts outside the atmosphere in 2014.

Today’s achievement puts them back in the spotlight and makes their record even harder to beat. “This is a great moment for each and every one of us,” said B. Jayakumar, project director at ISRO, “today we have created history.”

As opposed to other countries like China or Japan, India tends to focus its space efforts into the commercial field. As stated above, these launches produce a significant margin of profit by putting privately-owned satellites into space.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the scientists and engineers working for ISRO via Twitter. The politician hailed this record as a ‘proud moment’ for the entire space community in India, and the whole nation as well.

Getting a rocket into space is much cheaper in the South Asian nation

As rocket pierced the atmosphere at full speed, scientists detached the embedded satellites once every few seconds so they could fly towards their intended positions. The mission presented a high risk of collision that could have damaged the space crafts.

88 of the satellites were very tiny, weighing about 10 pounds, and belonged to a company called Planet Labs in San Francisco. The Californian business produces these little space crafts in high quantities for commercial data collection purposes. They call them ‘Doves.’

However, India managed to do this mission successfully while still charging less than half of what other commercial space competitors, mainly China and the US, currently do. In turn, mission profits covered about half of the total cost of the mission, online reports stated.

India’s ‘low-budget’ space program has always been a topic for discussions in the scientific community. In 2014, they sent a probe to Mars spending only about $74 million, while the United States later spent about $671 million on a similar mission.

Source: The New York Times