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Image credit: SpaceX
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has set a record for the number of satellites launched into orbit on a single rocket. The ambitious rideshare mission — called Transporter-1 — saw one of SpaceX’s veteran Falcon 9 boosters lift off with 143 small satellites aboard, before successfully landing at sea.
The two-stage rocket lifted off under “challenging” conditions at 10am EST on the morning of January 24 from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Image credit: SpaceX
Around two-and-a-half minutes after launch, the Falcon’s first stage main engines shut down. Eight seconds later, the two sections separated before the second stage engine roared into life, propelling it and its satellites into orbit.
The first stage then completed a text book landing, which saw it fly itself back over the Atlantic Ocean and land on SpaceX’s autonomous barge dubbed “Of Course I Still Love You”. Another ship, Miss Chief, then recovered some of the Falcon 9’s components, including the fairing that protected its expensive satellite payload.
For the dedicated rideshare mission, Transporter-1 carried 133 US government and private satellites, including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles to carry clusters of satellites to specific orbits.
In addition, SpaceX also sent 10 of its own Starlink internet satellites into orbit. The 10 Starlink satellites will be deposited in a unique polar orbit to help provide coverage to customers in Alaska and other polar regions.
SpaceX’s recent launch beat the previous record for the number of satellites launch at one time, which was set by India’s PSLV rocket in 2017.
The video below recaps the launch and satellite deployment.
Interested in getting a satellite into orbit? Wait for it… SpaceX allows you to take advantage of reduced costs by sharing the ride. Such flights cost $1 million per launch and can be booked through SpaceX’s dedicated Rideshare website: https://www.spacex.com/rideshare/