Isro's mid-February PSLV-C37 launch of 104 satellites to have 88 satellites from Planet Labs

Planet Lab will set a record with the launch of the most number of satellites by one company on a single launch vehicle spaceflight.

Isro is scheduled to launch 104 satellites on February 15, 2017. The launch is expected to be a world record when it comes to the number of satellites put into orbit by a launch vehicle in a single mission. Planet Labs, a company that sells Earth imaging service, will set a record of its own, with the launch of the most number of satellites by a single company on a single launch vehicle spaceflight.

That is because out of the 104 satellites on board, 88 satellites are from Planet Labs. The satellites are small CubeSats known as Dove satellites, and are part of a constellation of Earth imaging satellites by planet labs called Flock 3p. There are a total of 100 Dove satellites in Flock 3p. Flock 2p, which is a constellation of 12 Dove satellites, was also launched by Isro in the PSLV-C34 mission in last June, that had 20 satellites on board. Flock 3p will form a constellation with an ideal mid morning pass timing, that allows for clear images with minimum shadows.

The Flock 3p constellation, along with Dove satellites in other orbits, and the RapidEye satellites together will allow Planet Labs to image the Earth once every day. Planet Labs recently announced that it had purchased Terra Bella, Google's satellite imaging business. Google will be a customer to Planet Labs now. Terra Bella had launched the SkySat Gen 2-1 satellites for high resolution satellite imagery, on the same PSLV-C34 mission that launched the initial batch of Dove satellites for Flock 2p.

"This is the fifteenth time Planet is launching Dove satellites; and it will be our biggest launch to date. Combined with the 12 satellites of Flock 2p operating in a similar orbit, this launch will enable Planet’s 100 satellite “line scanner” constellation of Doves," says Mike Safyan, of Planet Labs.

The launch will take place from Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), and is currently scheduled for 14 February 2017. The launch has been delayed twice so far. The satellites are going to be deployed in a sun synchronous orbit (SSO) at an altitude of 500 km. The deployment of 88 Dove satellites by the PSLV-C37 mission is on track to be the single biggest constellation launch in history. India's Earth imaging satellite, in the CartoSat-2 series, is the primary payload in the mission.


This story is a part of a series on the world record launch of 104 satellites on a single mission by Isro. The stories in the series are: 

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