According to the latest news, yesterday morning, SpaceX launched a batch of 143 spacecraft to space from Florida under the company’s new cost cutting SmallSat Rideshare Program. With this, SpaceX has broken the record for the most satellites lofted into space on a single launch.
The Transporter-1 mission was first unveiled in 2019 and since then it has offered the company a potentially lucrative business line. It was unveiled in SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program. The program offers relatively cheap access to space for small satellite companies starting at $1 million for the first 485 pounds.
Initially, the launch was attempted on Saturday but due to bad weather, it could not take off. However, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off 24 hours later from its Cape Canaveral Space Force Station launch pad at 10 AM ET sending a mix of shoebox-sized CubeSats and much heavier microsatellites to a 326 mile-high polar orbit. Note that in August last year, SpaceX launched its first polar mission from Florida.
This is SpaceX’s third launch in 2021. It broke ISRO’s 2017 record of 104 satellite at launch. The 143 spacecraft aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 includes 48 Earth imaging satellites dubbed SuperDoves from Planet, 17 tiny communications satellites for Toronto based Kepler, and 30 small satellites for the US and Europe packaged by Berlin based Exolaunch.
Notably, the Transporter-1 mission comes just after four days of SpaceX launching 60 of its Starlink satellites to space. According to data compiled by Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer and expert satellite tracker, in the last 16 days, SpaceX has launched more satellites to space than what the entire world launched in any year before 2013.