SpaceX launches a ‘rideshare’ mission carrying 143 spacecraft, a record for a single launch

The Falcon 9 rocket stands on the launchpad in Florida forward of liftoff for the Transporter-1 mission.


SpaceX launched one other rocket into the record books on Sunday with the primary mission of its “rideshare” program carrying dozens of small satellites into area.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, carried 143 spacecraft into orbit — a new international record for essentially the most spacecraft launched directly, and surpassing the mark of 104 set by an Indian PSLV rocket in February 2017.

Called Transporter-1, the SpaceX mission was the primary for the corporate’s SmallSat Rideshare program.

While SpaceX advertises a launch on a Falcon 9 devoted to a single satellite tv for pc for $62 million, the corporate’s SmallSat Rideshare launches give smaller satellites — as small as the scale of a mailbox — an choice to orbit for as little as $1 million for 200 kilograms.

Such rideshare missions have develop into more and more frequent within the area trade, with international opponents like Arianespace’s Vega seeking to declare a share of the rising market of small satellites.

Rideshare missions supply a completely different possibility for low-cost satellites wanting for a trip to orbit, with smaller rockets like Rocket Lab’s Electron providing a extra tailor-made strategy.

“SpaceX is providing a competitive rideshare option, in large part leveraging its Starlink launches,” Bryce Space and Technology senior analyst Phil Smith advised CNBC.

The SpaceX service just isn’t fairly on demand, Smith mentioned, however corporations will pay a premium to launch in keeping with their schedule, moderately than the schedule of the first buyer.

“A fairly reliable ‘bus route’ is available,” Smith mentioned of SpaceX, “whereas I suppose one might compare companies like Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit as on-call taxies that get your satellite where you want it ASAP.”

Elon Musk’s firm launched 133 satellites for a broad number of authorities and personal prospects, in addition to 10 of its personal Starlink satellites.

SpaceX’s prospects on board Transporter-1 embrace: Planet Labs, Exolaunch, D-Orbit, Kepler Communications, Spaceflight Inc, Nanoracks, NASA and Capella Space, in addition to iQPS, Loft Orbital, Spire Global, ICEYE, HawkEye 360, Astrocast, and the University of South Florida Institute of Applied Engineering.

Notably, the 10 Starlink satellites aboard this mission would be the first within the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit, as the corporate continues to develop public entry to its satellite tv for pc web community. Those 10 satellites had been added after Momentus took its first Vigoride mission off the Transporter-1 launch earlier this month. Momentus cited further time wanted for regulatory approval as the reason for the change.

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