India to Break a Record by Sending 22 Satellites Into Space on a Single Rocket - Atlas Obscura
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India to Break a Record by Sending 22 Satellites Into Space on a Single Rocket

They’re feeling the heat.

In four days, India will try to set a new record, by launching 22 satellites into orbit on a single rocket.

The scheduled June 20 launch, from a pad on Sriharikota, on the country’s eastern coast, will contain satellites for a multitude of purposes, from navigation to one satellite that will help amateur radio operators, according to Bloomberg

It will also be the highest number of satellites for an Indian rocket to date, though Russia holds the all-time record, sending 33 into space on one rocket in 2014. 

The country has broad ambitions for its space program, and is going through with the launch in part because they’re feeling pressure from private space entrepreneurs like Elon Musk.

“Unless you keep yourself abreast and look to the future on how to make things better, how to make it more cost-effective, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant,” A.S. Kiran Kumar, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, told Bloomberg

Kumar is in part reacting to the realities of space races these days, with the ISRO competing with moguls like Musk for customers—including many telecommunications companies—who need an increasing number of satellites in orbit. The goal for both Musk and the ISRO is to make the cost of rocket launching as low as possible. 

Musk, for example, has developed a rocket that can launch and land, making it reusable. India isn’t there yet, but Kumar acknowledged that they were trying. 

“If you don’t have a capability, you have to build that capability,” Kumar told Bloomberg said. “It is not trying to emulate, but you also have to be relevant.”