SpaceX transports record number of ‘spacecraft’ in single launch
SpaceX has celebrated what it described as a record-breaking cargo launch on Sunday.
The aerospace company’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully transported 143 satellites and other spacecraft, lifting off from its launch complex in Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The cargo was deployed into orbit roughly two hours after launch.
“The most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission,” said Andy Tran, a SpaceX production supervisor.
Tran added that the rocket carried 133 commercial and government spacecraft as well as 10 SpaceX satellites.
Shortly after taking off, the Falcon 9’s main booster successfully landed following a controlled fall. The booster landed on an unmanned spaceport drone ship dubbed Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the booster’s fifth successful launch and return.
A ‘ride-share’ for satellites
The SpaceX launch is part of the private aerospace company’s “ride-share” program, where other companies and governments can pay SpaceX to deliver their technology to space.
Ahead of the launch, the company’s founder Elon Musk tweeted he was “excited about offering low-cost access to orbit for small companies.”
Some of the satellites onboard the Falcon 9 rocket are part of the company’s Starlink project to create a global broadband internet system. The company has launched 800 satellites for the project, but will need to launch several thousand to complete the project.
Scientists have raised concerns about the number of satellites, objects and other “space junk” clogging the area around Earth. SpaceX has dismissed concerns about its own projects by saying their satellites are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere after a few years.