On Sunday, a SpaceX rocket sent an unprecedented number of satellites into space, setting a new record for the most spacecraft deployed in a mission.
The mission was called “Transporter-1” and carried 143 spacecraft into earth orbit, including compact nano and micro satellites from different countries and companies.
This broke the previous record of 104 satellites launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) during its mission in 2017.
SpaceX’s rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Space Power Station in Florida at 10 a.m., marking the company’s first dedicated mission planned by SmallSat Rideshare.
As the name suggests, the plan is similar to an UberPool for satellites, allowing different operators to ride the same rocket into space and share the cost without having to invest more than $60 million to rent a single rocket.
According to the SmallSat Rideshare program, it only costs one million US dollars to send a 200 kg spacecraft into the sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), which is equipped with imaging, military and meteorological satellites.
SpaceX aims to serve the orbit through regular services every four months, in order to “provide more opportunities for small satellite operators seeking reliable and affordable travel orbits to enter space.”
Rockets designed for reuse
The relative affordability of the program is also related to the design of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which is used for missions and was developed to be partially reusable.
The most expensive part of the rocket-the first stage booster, which pushes it off the ground and after reaching its purpose-can land on one of the company’s maritime drones, which can then be used for other missions to lower the rocket The astronomical cost of the launch.
Falcon 9 launched 143 spacecraft, which is the most deployed spacecraft ever, and completed SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare mission pic.twitter.com/CJSUvKWeb4
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2021
For example, the first-stage booster used in the Transporter-1 mission was previously used in four other missions, including the Starlink program for SpaceX, which is installing thousands of satellites in Earth orbit to Provide high-speed Internet access to all parts of the world.
The number of satellites will increase fivefold in the next ten years
The “Transporter 1” aircraft carried spacecraft from research organizations such as NASA and the Institute of Applied Engineering of the University of South Florida, as well as eight communications satellites from Kepler of Canada and 48 shoebox-sized earths from Planet Labs in San Francisco Imaging satellite.
As part of the mission, SpaceX also launched ten of its own Starlink satellites, which are the first satellites in the constellation to be deployed in polar orbit. They will traverse the earth from north to south.
Shortly before this, another Starlink mission put 60 satellites into orbit on January 20. This is one of the company’s goals, namely to establish a giant constellation of at least 12,000 satellites by the middle of this century.
With the advent of smaller, more affordable satellites, and carpooling programs like SpaceX or the European company Arianespace’s Vega program, the number of satellites in Earth orbit will increase fivefold in the next ten years.
This has raised concerns about light pollution among astronomers and increased the risk of collisions, and ultimately increased the estimated 6,000 tons of space waste already floating in low-Earth orbit, including 2,550 of the 5,850 satellites on our planet.
To solve this waste of space, Kyoto University recently announced that it is cooperating with Sumitomo Forestry to develop the world’s first wooden satellite, which will burn completely at the end of its useful life.