When India Sent 104 Satellites Into Space

How India made history with ISRO’s successful launch of the PSLV C37

By Google Arts & Culture

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

On February 14, 2017, The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 104 satellites into orbit on a single rocket—the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). 

It was on its 39th mission when it was blasted from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The PSLV-C37 carried three times the number of satellites ever launched into space at the time and broke Russia’s record.

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

The PSLV-C37 launch is a rare accomplishment. It was able to send each satellite in the desired sun-synchronized orbit without disturbing the flights of others. 

Before this, Russia had launched 37 satellites on a Dnepr rocket on 19 June 2014, and the United States had deployed 33 satellites on an Antares 120 rocket on 9 January 2014.  

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

How it happened

Of the 104 satellites that were deployed, only three were Indian, and the remaining 101 co-passengers were from other countries. There were 96 nanosatellites from the United States and one satellite each from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, Kazakhstan, and the UAE. 

The total weight of the satellites onboard PSLV-C37 was 1378 kg, of which the total weight of 103 satellites was 664 kg, while the weight of the Cartosat-2 series satellite was 714 kg.. 

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

The first three satellites to be launched were India’s Earth observation satellite, the high-resolution Cartosat-2 series, and nanosatellites INS-1A and INS-1B. Curtosat-2 is being used to map urban and rural regions, regulate coastal land use, and manage water distribution, among other uses.

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

Small cost, a big achievement

The PSLV C37 launch was a powerful and precise event in India’s space history and it showed the world that satellite launches can be economical and cost-effective affairs. Sending 104 satellites into space cost ISRO a measly measly $15 million, and has paved the way for more such satellite launches in the near future.

Some of the scientific and engineering minds behind the PSLV C37 launch were India’s ‘rocket man’ Kailasavadivoo Sivan, who was felicitated with the Kannada Rajyotsava award in 2022 and...

...S Somnath who was the director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre director during the time of the launch but now is the chairman of ISRO.

Aryabhata, India's first satellite in 1975 by Roshan Gawand

On April 14, 1975, India launched its first satellite Aryabhata from Astrakhan Oblast, Russia. It was named after the noted mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata I. With the launch of the unmanned satellite, India became the 11th country in the world to send a satellite into space.

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

Accomplishments and legacy

Five years later, on July 18, 1980, India launched its first experimental satellite launch vehicle, the SLV-3. When the SLV-3 put Rohini, a series of satellites launched by ISRO, in orbit, India became the sixth member of an exclusive club of space-faring nations. 

Chandrayaan 2, India's second lunar exploration mission by Roshan Gawand

In more recent history, India launched an unmanned lunar probe under the Chandrayan program in October 2008, and on November 5, 2013, it launched the spacecraft, Mangalyaan.  

With its Mars Orbiter Mission, India became the fourth nation in the world to reach Mars orbit, and the first one to do it in its maiden attempt.

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

Plans for the future

In 1984, four years after the launch of the SLV-3, India sent its first astronaut into space. Since then, Rakesh Sharma has remained the only Indian astronaut to have gone into space but this is soon going to change.


Gaganyan, likely to be launched in 2024, will be India’s first human space mission and will make way for cutting-edge scientific research in the country through human-in-loop microgravity experiments. 

Record 104 satellites launched in a single PSLV flight: to show the growth of the ecosystem by Roshan Gawand

India’s space ambitions are growing every day, and it has become a force to reckon with. The Indian space story might still be in its nascent stage, but it's one written in the stars. 

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