SpaceX's first 'rideshare' mission will launch a record number of satellites

SpaceX's first 'rideshare' mission will launch a record number of satellites

The SpaceX Transporter-1 mission set to launch today will put 133 commercial and government spacecraft, as well as 10 more Starlink satellites, in orbit. SpaceX says that’s “the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission” — the previous record holder, an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, ferried only 104 satellites to space. In addition to having a record-breaking payload, Transporter-1 is also the first dedicated launch under the SmallSat Rideshare Program SpaceX announced back in 2019.

Launching many small satellites for a wide range of customers tomorrow. Excited about offering low-cost access to orbit for small companies! https://t.co/NrXmBML747— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 22, 2021

The SmallSat program offers companies and government agencies an affordable way to get their CubeSats, microsats and other small spacecraft to orbit. Its prices start at $2.5 million for payloads up to 150 kg (330 lbs). The program’s customers typically just hitch a ride on other Falcon 9 launches, and this is the first time they’re the main point of a mission. As for the Starlink satellites aboard the flight, they’ll be the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit.