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SpaceX launch: Falcon 9 rocket carried 143 satellites into orbit in record-setting mission

The mission, dubbed Transporter-1, carried 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink web community, and greater than 130 satellites for a wide range of clients together with Planet, which operates a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites, and ICEYE, which develops small radar satellites for monitoring ice and monitoring floods.

SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission was the primary in new rideshare program that SpaceX introduced in 2019. The firm mentioned on the time it’ll dedicate “regularly scheduled” launches of its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket to carrying giant batches of small satellites, or “smallsats,” reasonably than specializing in one giant, main payload.

Smallsats have seen a meteoric rise in recognition over the previous few years. They vary in measurement from as small as a smartphone to as giant as a kitchen fridge. And as they’ve grown extra superior, hoards of companies have entered the market promising to ship companies utilizing new smallsat applied sciences.

Typically, smallsats attain orbit by tagging together with bigger, dearer satellites, and the ready record could be lengthy and unpredictable. But there’s been a significant push within the launch business to cater on to the booming smallsat market. Dozens of latest rocket corporations are promising to construct scaled-down rockets that may present fast and simple launches for smallsats. Two such corporations, Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, have efficiently despatched their downsized rockets to orbit and begun industrial operations.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are a lot bigger than Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit’s rockets, they usually’re usually used to launch hefty communications or spy satellites or Dragon spacecraft, which ferry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station.

Deciding to dedicate further missions simply to launching batches of smallsats is an organization first, and it is a signal of how a lot curiosity within the business has grown.

As the variety of units in orbit grows, nonetheless, specialists have gotten more and more involved about congestion. Satellites have collided in orbit earlier than, and although such incidents do not put up a lot of a menace to individuals on the bottom, the particles from the crash can keep in orbit for years or a long time.

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