The SpaceX rocket delivered an unprecedented number of satellites into space on Sunday, setting a new record for the most spacecraft ever deployed in a mission.
Dubbed Transporter-1, the mission included 143 spacecraft orbiting Earth, including compact nano- and microsatellites from a range of different countries and corporations.
This defeats the previous record of 104 satellites, launched in 2017 during a mission by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
SpaceX’s rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 10 am, marking the first dedicated mission of the company’s SmallSat rideshare program.
As the name suggests, the initiative looks like a sort of Uberpool for satellites, allowing different operators to ride in space on the same rocket and invest more than $ 60 million instead of splitting the cost. Permission is granted.
Under the SmallSat rideshare program, it costs only $ 1 million to send a 200-kg spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), which consists of imaging, military, and weather satellites.
SpaceX aims to serve this orbit through a regular service every four months, to provide “increased access to space for small satellite operators seeking a reliable, inexpensive ride in orbit”.
Rocket designed to be reused
The relative strength of the program is also tied to the design of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which was used for the mission and was partially developed for reuse.
The rocket’s most expensive part – a first-stage booster that lifts it off the ground and collapses once it serves its purpose – is able to land on one of the company’s ocean-bound droneships and later the other Can be used for missions to bring down the astronomical cost of rocket launches.
Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft into orbit – most deployed on a mission – completing SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat rideshare program mission pic.twitter.com/CJSUvKWeb4
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2021
For example, the first-stage booster used in the Transporter-1 mission was previously used in four other missions, including SpaceX’s StarLink program, which is one of thousands of satellites placed in Earth’s orbit to provide high-speed Internet access. Is looking at the constellation. Worldwide.
The number of satellites was determined over the next decade
The Carrier Transporter-1 mission had eight communications satellites from the Canadian company Kepler and 48 showbox-size Earth imaging satellites by San Francisco-based Planet Labs, as well as spacecraft from research organizations such as NASA and the University of South Florida Incident of Applied Engineering .
Also launched as part of the mission were ten of SpaceX’s own Starlink satellites – the first in the constellation to be deployed in polar orbit, where they would span Earth from north to south.
This comes immediately after the StarLink mission saw 60 satellites sent into orbit on January 20 as the goal of establishing a mega-constellation of at least 12,000 satellites by the middle of a decade.
With the advent of smaller, more affordable satellites and ridesharing programs, such as the SpaceX or Vega program by European company Arianspace, the number of satellites in Earth’s orbit is determined over the next decade.
This has led to increased concern among astronomers of increasing the risk of light pollution as well as collisions and eventually adding an estimated 6,000 tons of space waste that are already floating in low Earth orbit – including 5,850 of our planet’s satellites 2,550 are included.
To deal with this space waste, Kyoto University recently announced that it is developing the world’s first wooden satellite in association with Sumitomo Forestry, which will burn completely at the end of its life.