Elon Musk’s SpaceX has managed to break the world record of the most number of satellites carried by a single rocket as Falcon 9 carried as many as 143 payloads into space on Monday. The launch was part of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program mission and the firm’s social media handles shared pictures from the launch. Falcon 9 which has taken part in numerous SpaceX missions in the past flew from Florida to take the 143 satellites of different shapes and sizes to their orbits.
Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft to orbit — the most ever deployed on a single mission — completing SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission , SpaceX carried satellites for various private and government space bodies. The most number of satellites were of San Francisco’s Planet company which had 48 of their SuperDove models on flight. Iceye from Finland, Capella and Umbra from the US, and iQPS of Japan also had their satellites as payloads. Other than these, there were 10 satellites of SpaceX as part of its Starlink constellation.
The latest additions will join their sister satellites just days after the firm had launched a batch of 60 satellites on 20 January. These were also placed in the orbit by Falcon 9. Now the total number of Starlink satellites in space has reached 965. As per the plan, the constellation is going to be a massive network of up to 30,000 satellites.
Most of the payloads carried by Falcon 9 in the recent launch were miniscule, with the average size being a bit larger than a coffee mug. The biggest items were, at best, suitcase-sized. The Falcon carried all the 143 satellites into a 500 km-high orbit which runs from pole to pole.