San Francisco: Much like ridesharing via Uber on Earth, Elon Musk-run SpaceX has successfully launched its new cost-cutting rideshare mission with 143 small satellites -- a new record for a single rocket -- into space.
Called the Transporter-1 mission, the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on Sunday from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. "Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft to orbit -- the most ever deployed on a single mission -- completing SpaceX's first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Programme mission," SpaceX said in a tweet.
According to SpaceX, the rideshare programme offers cheap access to space for small satellite companies, starting at $1 million for a 200-kg satellite.
Much like a "rideshare Uber", a company's small satellite can hitch a ride to space with this new mission. The SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket sent a mix of shoebox-sized CubeSats and much heavier micro-satellites to a 326-mile-high polar orbit.
The 143 satellites include 48 Earth imaging satellites, 17 tiny communications satellites, and 30 small satellites for the US and Europe by Germany-based Exolaunch.
"The sheer number of payloads/satellites was well above the limit needed to break both the U.S. and world records for most satellites launched on a single mission," NASa said in a statement.
Both records were previously held by Northrop Grumman with 108 satellites launched on the NG-10 Cygnus mission in November 2018. SpaceX's previous record is 64 satellites on the SSO-A mission in December 2018, a flight that featured Spaceflight Industries' Sherpa satellite dispenser.
Transporter-1 was the second mission since 1969 to use the polar corridor route from Florida.