In a significant breakthrough, Elon Musk-run SpaceX created a unique world record by successfully launching 143 small satellites. The firm broke the record previously held by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which launched 104 satellites in 2017.
The US-based space company launched 143 satellites through its Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket took off at 10AT EST on Sunday from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The launch was originally slotted for the previous day, but there was a delay because of bad weather conditions.
This was SpaceX’s first mission that had payloads from multiple customers onboard. Its smallsat rideshare program offers companies prices as low as $1 million for the first 200 kg— additional cargo costs $5,000 per kg.
“Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft to orbit, the most ever deployed on a single mission — completing SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Programme mission,” SpaceX said in a tweet.
The 143 satellites include 48 Earth imaging satellites, 17 tiny communications satellites, and 30 small satellites for the US and Europe by Germany-based Exolaunch. This goes to show that SpaceX has already entered its name as ‘elite space power’.
“The sheer number of payloads/satellites was well above the limit needed to break both the US and world records for most satellites launched on a single mission,” NASA said in a statement.
SpaceX delayed the launch one day because of unfavorable weather. On January 22 Musk, also chief executive of Tesla Inc, wrote on Twitter: “Launching many small satellites for a wide range of customers tomorrow. Excited about offering low-cost access to orbit for small companies!”
The company aims to launch 30,000 satellites in total to provide global broadband coverage.