SpaceX deploys a record-breaking number of smallsats

SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket deployed 143 small satellites for various customers yesterday. This mission was also a rideshare mission creating competition for companies offering the same services as the entrant small launch vehicles. The rocket departed from Space Launch Complex 40 based at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 10 a.m. The mission had, however, been delayed by one day due to lousy weather in the region. The reusable booster dropped back on the northern coast of Cuba. The mission becomes the fifth to be organized by NASA and SpaceX’s customers who paid for rideshare missions.

The second stage of the rocket deployed satellite after one hour of being in the air, deploying them into the sun-synchronous orbits. SpaceX explained that these satellites are the largest quantity they have sent to space after the company started deploying for space missions. The 143 satellites deployed have beaten the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) mission, which deployed 104 satellites. Transporter-1 became the first rideshare mission program organized by SpaceX for small satellite deployment.

Moreover, the mission offered a pathway for secondary missions like the Starlink constellation payloads and other launches. Other companies that agreed to the rideshare mission include Spaceflight, Exolaunch and Nanoracks. However, the US Space Command which monitors the satellites entering space to ensure that they do not interfere with space operations.

The planet is the biggest customer that enjoyed the space rides deploying 48 Dove cubesats, with 36 of them going directly through SpaceX and the other 12 departing Earth through other operators. Elsewhere, Swarm deployed 36 satellites through its partnership with two mega satellite launch companies. The numerous satellites launched imply that SpaceX’s competitors were also launching their missions.

These competitors include Iceye, which deployed three synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites and two from Capella Space. The company deployed these payloads to meet the internet-of-things services that it intended to provide to its customers. Other customers in this SpaceX mission include Spire, which deployed eight new cubesats intended for conducting weather predictions, HawkEye 360, which launched three satellites for resounding commercial satellite signals for sensitive data transfer.

SpaceX topped the mission with 10 of its Starlink satellites. These satellites will be heading for the polar orbit after the FCC agrees to the company’s request to utilize the polar region as a testing ground for its broadband internet accessibility and connectivity trials. Nevertheless, two DARPA payloads that were to head out and test different technologies on behalf of the Blackjack program were destroyed during their procession early this year.

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