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SpaceX launches a record 143 satellites on one rocket

2021-01-25 18:50 by
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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket boosted a record 143 small satellites into a polar orbit on Sunday in the company's first dedicated "rideshare" mission, a response to the growing demand for low-cost access to space by smaller, non-traditional companies and institutions.

Transporter-1 is known as a "rideshare," meaning several customers split launch costs to fly dozens of small payloads in one Falcon 9 fairing. Customers on Sunday included NASA, the Department of Defense, Space Force, and even Celestis, a Houston-based organization that sends human ashes to space.

The ride-sharing program is much cheaper than SpaceX's advertised price of $62 million for a dedicated rocket launch and could be appealing for companies or government agencies that need to launch smaller payloads.

SpaceX also added 10 of its Starlink satellites to the mission. These will be the first to operate in polar orbits, after the Federal Communications Commission granted permission Jan. 8 to use polar orbits for those 10 satellites to test providing broadband internet access at high latitudes.

This launch brings the number of Starlink units in the space to 955. The company aims to launch 30,000 satellites in total to provide global broadband coverage.

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