Science

India set to launch record 104 satellites with single rocket

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will lift off from southern India on Wednesday morning with 104 satellites on board.

Payload includes small satellites from countries around the world

Indians watch the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) rocket lifting off from the east coast island of Sriharikota, India, on June 30, 2014. India's space agency is set to launch 104 satellites on Wednesday, which would be a record. (Arun Sankar K./Associated Press)

India's space agency is set to launch 104 satellites into space on Wednesday using a single rocket.

The Indian Space Research Organization is scheduled to launch the rocket at 9:28 a.m. local time from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) will lift a 714-kilogram Cartosate-2 series satellite into space as part of an Earth observation initiative. 

As well, there will be 103 nanosatellites. These small satellites — weighing a total of 664 kilograms — are from numerous countries around the world including Israel, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and the United States. 

Nanosatellites are small satellites that have a mass between one and 10 kilograms. Since launching satellites requires a lot of fuel, which increases the cost significantly, these lightweight nanosatellites have become increasingly popular.

Along with the United States and China, India is a major player in space missions. In 2013, its Mars Orbiter Mission reached Mars, and at a fraction of the cost of NASA's Maven Mars mission. According to the Times of India, the space agency is also setting its sights on Venus.

If Wednesday's launch is successful, the country will eclipse Russia — which launched 37 satellites in June 2014 — for the most satellites launched into space at once.

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