A veteran rocket from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company launched 143 spacecraft into space on Sunday, a new record for the most spaceships deployed on a single mission, according to the company. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10 a.m. EST from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It flew south along the eastern coast of Florida on its way to space, the company said.
The reusable rocket ferried 133 commercial and government spacecraft and 10 Starlink satellites to space – part of the company’s SmallSat Rideshare Program, which provides access to space for small satellite operators seeking a reliable, affordable ride to orbit, according to the company.
SpaceX delayed the launch one day because of unfavorable weather. On Jan. 22 Musk, also chief executive of Tesla Inc., wrote on Twitter: ‘Launching many small satellites for a wide range of customers tomorrow. Excited about offering low-cost access to orbit for small companies!’
SpaceX has previously launched to orbit more than 800 satellites of the several thousand needed to offer broadband internet globally, a $10 billion investment it estimates could generate $30 billion annually to help fund Musk`s interplanetary rocket program, called Starship.
SpaceX broke a world space record by launching 143 satellites in quick succession, beating India’s record of deploying 104 satellites in February 2017. The 143 satellites launched on Sunday included commercial and government CubeSats, microsats, what are known as orbiter transfer vehicles and 10 Starlink satellites — the maximum number of spacecraft ever to be deployed in a single mission. This batch of Starlink satellites was the first in the constellation to be placed in the polar orbit.