Washington: US President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the director of national intelligence has said he was “shocked” to know that India successfully launched over 100 satellites in one go, asserting that the US cannot afford to be seen lagging behind.
“I was shocked the other day to read that India, on one rocket launch, deposited more than 100 satellites in space,” former Senator Dan Coats told lawmakers on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing for the position of Director of National Intelligence. He said the US cannot afford to be seen lagging behind.
India’s space agency ISRO launched a record 104 satellites on a single rocket from the ‘Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh on February 15.
With this launch, India has become the first country to successfully carry so many satellites in a single mission. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 is the star of what has been described as an incredible step for the country’s space programme. It tore into the sky at 9.28 am, breaking free of the earth’s gravitational pull with a growl.
“They may be small in size with different functions and so forth but one rocket can send up, I think it was 104 platforms,” said Mr Coats, who if confirmed would be in-charge of all major American intelligence agencies including the CIA.
All 104 satellites were released into space in just about 18 minutes – each travelling at the speed of over 27,000 km per hour. The ISRO said the milestone launch overtook the 2014 Russian record of 37 satellites in a single launch.
Of the total satellites that were launched, three were Indian-owned, 96 were from US companies, and the rest belonged to companies based in Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
In September 2014 the country became just the fourth after the US, the former Soviet Union and the European Space Agency to successfully guide a spacecraft into orbit around Mars. Most were owned by Planet Labs Inc, a San Francisco-based Earth-imaging company