On Wednesday, India successfully launched 20 satellites in a single mission, including 17 from foreign countries, making it the most in the history of the country’s space program, and the third highest in history, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The successful mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation puts India just behind Russia and the U.S. in the record for the most satellites launched in a single mission. In 2014, Russia sent up 33 satellites, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket carried 29 satellites in 2013, according the Journal.
The launch took place from the Sriharikota space centre off India’s east coast, and some of the satellites included in the launch were from the United States, Canada, Germany and Indonesia.
“ISRO continues to break new barriers,” said Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, on his Twitter (TWTR) account.
The country’s previous largest single launch was in 2008 when 10 satellites were sent into low Earth orbits, according to the Times of India.
The global space industry was estimated to be worth $330 billion in 2014, the latest year for which data are available, according to the Space Foundation, a U.S.-based research group. Global space agencies are facing competition from private companies who are aiming to bring the cost and time down for manufacturing satellites. Many are doing this by automating their production and using unmanned reusable rockets, according to the Journal. The launch comes at a time when India has been positioning itself as a key player in the international commercial space market as an effective but lost cost operator, according to BBC News.
Late last month, India launched it’s own space shuttle. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it successfully launched its Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) on the back of an HS9 solid rocket booster at from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, on the country’s southeastern coast. The vehicle rose to a height of about 40 miles at a speed of Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound) before making it safely back down 280 miles from where it took off. The entire trip only took 13 minutes.
According to Bloomberg, India plans to spend about $1.1 billion on its space program by March 2017.