SpaceX has successfully launched 143 record-breaking satellites into space as part of its commercial satellite “ridesharing” service.
One of the most ambitious missions for SpaceX, according to Space.com’s Amy Thompson, was that the Falcon 9 rocket launched into orbit from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral on Sunday morning (Jan. 24).
SPACEX HISTORIC UNDOCKING: SpaceX Cargo Dragon makes the first historic undocking
Falcon 9 launches 143 starships – the most ever deployed on a single mission – and completes SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission
– SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2021
“The flight enabled SpaceX to play its ride-on muscles in a carefully choreographed orbital ballet while its flagship rocket carried the largest number of payloads yet,” Thompson wrote.
The mission, called Transporter-1, carried a force of satellites, including 10 of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband units.
The flat panel Starlink satellites will be used to serve customers in Alaska and other polar regions, Thompson wrote. “A first for the broadband fleet.”
In addition, according to CNN Business’s Jackie Wattles, Transporter-1 carried over 130 satellites for paying customers such as Planet, “which operates a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites.
In 2019, SpaceX announced it would offer year-round ridesharing for its Falcon 9 rockets at $ 1 million per launch, Thompson said.
Cosmic ridesharing isn’t new as SpaceX has sent payload missions for various companies since SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the company’s StarLink initiative in 2015. In 2018, a rocket called the SSO-A sent 64 satellites into low-earth orbit, Thompson said.
While this is exciting news for SpaceX, experts fear that the large number of satellites being launched into orbit could interfere with the conduct of existing research.
Space.com’s Adam Mann shared a statement from the International Astronomical Union expressing concern about the satellite missions.
“Satellite constellations can pose a significant or debilitating threat to critical existing and future astronomical infrastructures. We urge their designers, providers and policy makers to work with the astronomical community to collectively analyze and understand the effects of satellite constellations.”
This criticism was responded to in good faith and cooperation by SpaceX representatives.
“SpaceX is determined to find a way forward so that our Starlink project does not undermine the value of the research you all are doing,” said Patricia Cooper, Vice President, SpaceX Satellite Government Affairs.