When the PSLV-C45 embarked on its journey into space on Monday, it was a red letter day for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), an entity with many a feather in a large cap. This launch vehicle, or quite simply a rocket, is used to deliver satellites to low-earth orbits. The launch vehicle carried one Indian and 28 international satellites, marking the first instance of a rocket that injected satellites in three different orbits, compared to two earlier. Even though, ISRO’s record for carrying 104 satellites on one rocket remains unbroken, that still had no satellites in more than two orbits.
After its first successful launch in 1994, ISRO’s PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle) had completed 39 more missions by mid-2017 and eight more since then. All this has earned it the 'Workhorse of ISRO' title. In a technological breakthrough, the rocket carried four more booster rockets or strap-ons giving it the additional thrust midway during its flight. This is down from six used earlier, without compromising on the power. Incidentally, it was the PSLV that launched two Chandrayaan-1 spacecrafts in 2008 and the Mars Orbiter five years later.
It is not a matter of small significance that the recent PSLV-C45 flight was five days after ISRO launched its anti-satellite weapon test. This time, ISRO had EMISAT, its first electronic surveillance satellite on board. Its successful launch gives India a serious push into satellite imagery, which will be very useful for its armed forces at a time when the relationship with Pakistan is tense.