SpaceX set a new all-time record for most satellites launched and deployed on a single mission with its Transporter-1 flight on Sunday. The launch was the first of SpaceX’s special missions to share the payload of its rocket among multiple customers, resulting in reduced costs for everyone, but still providing SpaceX with a full launch and all the revenue needed to justify praising one of its vehicles. .
Today, the launch included 143 satellites, 133 of which were from other companies that booked trips. SpaceX also launched 10 of its own Starlink satellites, adding to the already more than 1,000 already sent into orbit to power SpaceX’s own broadband communications network. During launch of the broadcast last week, SpaceX has revealed that it has started serving beta customers in Canada and is expanding to the UK with its private test before the launch of this service.
Customers at the launch today included Planet Labs, which sent 48 imaging satellites to SuperDove Earth; A swarm that sent 36 on its own small IoT communication satellites and Kepler, who adds to his constellation with eight more of its own spacecraft. The rideshare model that SpaceX already has should help smaller new space companies and startups like these build their operational constellations in orbit faster, complementing other small launchers such as Rocket Lab and new member Virgin Orbitto name just a few.
This launch of SpaceX was also the first to deliver Starlink satellites into polar orbit, which is a key part of the company’s continued expansion of broadband service. The mission also included successfully landing and restoring the Falcon 9’s first-class rocket booster, the fifth for that particular booster, and double-restoring the half-fairings used to protect the cargo during launch, which were caught in the Atlantic using its recovery vessels and will be repaired and reused.