SpaceX on Sunday successfully launched its Falcon-9 rocket with a record number of satellites on board a single rocket, 143 spacecraft, according to a broadcast page on the company's website.
In this launch, only 10 spacecraft were the Starlink communications satellites, SpaceX's Internet communications project, aimed to provide wireless internet connection at any geographical point of the globe.
"On board this launch were 133 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) and 10 Starlink satellites – the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission. The Starlink satellites aboard this mission were the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit", the company's launch description reads.
Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft to orbit — the most ever deployed on a single mission — completing SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission pic.twitter.com/CJSUvKWeb4— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2021
From the pad: Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft to orbit on SpaceX’s first dedicated rideshare mission, Transporter-1: pic.twitter.com/UCnmsHu3Yo— John Kraus 📷🚀 (@johnkrausphotos) January 24, 2021
In addition, the 48 SuperDove satellites are owned by Planet, a company that surveys the Earth's surface. The cargo also included human ashes aboard a Celestis Inc. flight.
As usual, the company provided a streaming video of the whole launch online for the fans.
The first stage booster of the Falcon 9, which landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic, had been in space four times before this flight, including during last summer's launch of SpaceX's first crew mission.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship pic.twitter.com/6gWWlLiXdG— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 24, 2021
A fantastic uninterrupted view of a SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage touching on one of the company's drone ships.— Space Explorer Mike (@MichaelGalanin) January 23, 2021
Credit: SpaceX pic.twitter.com/gJlFg5fUMF
Perfect🚀 Falcon 9 landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship 😎😍 This was the 5th flight of this specific stage, and the 73rd Falcon booster recovery to date. pic.twitter.com/nYfNFQ8M5f— venus 🧜♀️ (@venus47203379) January 24, 2021
The previous record was set in 2017 by India, 104 vehicles in one launch, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation.larger satellites have extra space on their rockets, small satellites are launched as secondary payloads, but this rideshare launch was different. The mission, named Transporter-1, became the first launch under a program designed to provide affordable access to satellite launch for interested companies.
This mission was planned to launch at a scheduled date, meaning that as long as the small satellites were ready, they could fly on time, instead of being required to wait for a large payload to be ready.
According to media reports, the cost of launching a satellite weighing 200 kilograms is approximately $1 million. For every additional kilogram, space carriers charge $5,000.
SpaceX plans to carry out similar launches every four months.