Texas, USA (CNN) – On Sunday, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carried 143 satellites into orbit in a joint mission, setting a new world record for the largest number of satellites launched from a single missile.
The mission, dubbed “Transporter 1”, carried 10 satellites for the “Starlink” network of SpaceX, and more than 130 satellites for a variety of clients including “Planet”, which operates a constellation of Earth imaging satellites. , And ICEYE, which is developing small radar satellites for ice detection and flood tracking.
The previous record for the largest number of satellites ever launched into space in a single trip is due to the PSLV, an Indian rocket that carried 104 satellites in 2017.
SpaceX’s Transport 1 mission was the first in a new flight-sharing program announced by the company in 2019. The company said at the time that it would allocate a “regular schedule” for launching its Falcon 9 missile to transport large groups. From small satellites, rather than focusing on one large basic payload.
Small satellites have seen a sharp rise in popularity over the past few years. They range from the size of smartphones to the size of kitchen refrigerators. As they progressed further, large numbers of companies entered the market promising to provide services using new small satellite technologies.
Smaller satellites usually reach orbit by escorting larger and more expensive satellites, and the waiting list can be long and unpredictable. But there was a major push in the launch industry to directly meet the needs of the burgeoning small satellite market.
Dozens of new missile companies have pledged to build miniature rockets that can provide quick and easy launches for small satellites. Two of these companies, “Rocket Lab” and “Virgin Orbit”, succeeded in sending their miniature missiles into orbit and commencing commercial operations.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are much larger than the Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit rockets, and are usually used to launch massive communications, spy satellites or Dragon spacecraft, which transport astronauts and goods to and from the International Space Station.
The decision to devote additional tasks to launching small groups of satellites is the first of its kind for the company, a sign of the growing interest in the industry.