NEW DELHI - India fired a rocket carrying 31 small satellites into space on Friday, several of them for European countries looking for high resolution earth images, underlining its strength as a low-cost provider of services in space.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launched a 712 kg Cartosat-2 satellite for earth observation and 30 other tiny satellites from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh at 9.29 a.m. (0359GMT).
The rocket is carrying satellites from India and 14 other countries, including Austria, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, as part of an international commercial arrangement by the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation. (ISRO) "Congratulations to ISRO on its 40th successful Polar satellite launch ... You make us proud!" Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
Modi's government has been promoting the space programme as a showcase of low-cost technology. In February, the ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single mission, most of them for foreign customers.
In 2015, the global space industry was valued at $323 billion, according to Space Foundation report, and India accounted for just 0.6 per cent of that business.
Friday's lift-off comes 18 days after India put a three-tonne satellite, its heaviest, into the orbit matching the technical know-how of the United states, Russia, China, Japan and the European Space Agency. "Our effort of continuing to provide increased earth observation, navigation as well as communication will continue,"ISRO chief A.K. Kiran Kumar said in a speech after the launch.