SpaceX Falcon 9 boosts record 143 satellites on “rideshare” mission

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday raised a record 143 small satellites in a polar orbit in the company’s first dedicated “rideshare” mission, a response to growing demand for low-cost access to space by small, non-traditional companies and institutions was.

The “Transporter 1” mission also served as a reminder of the ongoing debate over what role the government should play in regulating the increasingly crowded domains of low-Earth orbit, where collisions threaten other spacecraft To make high-speed shrapnel.

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel wrote in a recently released 2020 annual report, “No universally accepted ‘rules’ for the safety of space operations exist to protect space operations.”

“As the potential for orbital collisions increases with increasing congestion, it is important to recognize that risks to astronauts, significant national security capabilities, and global space commerce are also increasing.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carries a record 143 small satellites from Cape Canaveral on Sunday, January 24, 2021.

William Harwood / CBS News

Running late one day Due to inclement weather, the Transporter 1 mission began at 10 a.m. ET with a ground-shaking roar as Falcon 9 lifted off Cape Canaveral and around 326 miles high around the Earth’s poles on a rare south-south trajectory Ran towards class.

After taking the rocket out of the lower atmosphere, the first stage, which made its fifth flight, fell away and landed itself on a landing target on a drone ship southeast of Miami. It was SpaceX’s 73rd successful booster recovery and 51st at sea.

In February 2017, 143 satellites were launched by most single rockets in the second phase, eclipsing the 104-satellite mark set by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

“Excited about offering low cost in class for small companies!” SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted on Friday.

SpaceX charges a relatively low $ 1 million to launch the 440-pound satellite and pays $ 5,000 for 2.2 pounds above that base level. The company says that transporter missions will be carried out every four months or so as needed.

Sunday’s flight featured a smorgasbord of CubeSats, Nanosats and other small spacecraft made available by many companies and institutions.

The specification included SpaceX’s 10 Starlink Internet relay stations, taking the total launch to 1,025, 48 Planet-built Superdove Earth-imaging satellites and a wide variety of “small” ones for commercial applications, technology development, scientific research is devoted. And education.

Memorial spaceflight company Celestis sent crematoriums in small containers, representing 114 “participants”, with lifelong space enthusiasts from correspondent Dave Barrett of CBS News Radio.

Rideshare flights are a recent commercial innovation that gives companies and institutions relatively quick, inexpensive access to space that they otherwise might not secure.

Germany-based ExoLach helps facilitate small satellite launches and had 30 riders on SpaceX’s Transporter 1 mission. This artist impression marks several deployments using the company’s EXOport launch vehicle adapters.

To leave

But critics worry about the rapidly increasing number of satellites that, in the absence of government regulation and control, would translate into an increased risk of potentially catastrophic collisions.

The aerospace safety advisory panel for the SpaceX crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner astronaut ferry ships and Lockheed Martin’s Orion Deep Space Space Capsule called the space debris “a major safety issue” and “a major contributor to the calculation of crew predictions”.

Space debris also contributes to two of the top three risks faced by the International Space Station.

“The danger remains and continues to increase rapidly,” the report said. “Space is becoming more congested. For example, CubeSat and other smaller satellites are being launched with increasing frequency, and many companies are now deploying mega-constellations with hundreds, or even thousands, of satellites. She has been.

The US space force provides satellite tracking, but it is becoming increasingly difficult and there is no regulatory framework for active risk management and collision avoidance.

ASAP stated, “Given the recent increase in non-traditional commercial space missions, including the deployment of a large number of satellites, updates to existing roles and responsibilities to provide satellite servicing, space tourism, and worldwide Internet access.” May be appropriate, ”said ASAP.

“As things stand today, there are no clear lines of authority for direction among the many entities working in space.”


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