Falcon 9

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches global record of 143 satellites for a single mission

SpaceX Falcon 9 launches global record of 143 satellites for a single mission

On Sunday morning SpaceX conducted its first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, Transporter-1, that launched a global record of 143 satellites atop a Falcon 9 rocket – the most satellites ever deployed for a single mission. SpaceX’s Rideshare Program offers customers a more affordable option to launch small payloads to orbit by hitching a ride with other payloads. A four-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket lifted off for its fifth flight from Launch Pad-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, carrying all 143 payloads owned by different companies and organizations inside its fairing.


Approximately nine minutes after liftoff the five-times-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster, identified as B1058, returned from space, it landed flawlessly atop the ‘Of Course I Still Love You’ autonomous droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. The successful landing marked the 73rd recovery of an orbital-class rocket. Booster B1058 previously supported the uncrewed Demo-1 Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station in March 2019. Later, B1058 launched the South Korean ANASIS-II mission in July 2020 and a Starlink mission. Most recently, in December 2020, booster B1058 supported the launch of Dragon carrying cargo for SpaceX’s 21st NASA resupply mission to the orbiting laboratory. Today SpaceX recovered the booster a fifth time to reuse on a future mission.


Transporter-1 was a record-breaking rocket flight featuring 143 payloads that belong to: NASA, Planet Labs, Exolaunch, Swarm Technologies, Spaceflight, HawkEye, iQPS, Umbra Labs, Celestis, Astrocast, US DOD, USAF, KelplarianTech, NearSpace, Space Domain Awareness, R2, inOrbit, PlanetiQ, Kepler, Astro Digital, D-Orbit, Israel defense, spaceQ, UVSQ, Capella, LINCOLNSHIRE, Tyvax Nano-Satellite Systems, NanoRacks and NanoAvionics. The mission also deployed 10 internet-beaming Starlink satellites that will be part of SpaceX’s broadband constellation. The satellites were placed at an altitude of approximately 500-kilometers above Earth to operate in Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO). The Starlink satellites will be the first in the constellation to deploy to a SSO Polar Orbit where they will be capable of providing internet service to Alaska, one of the most remote areas in the United States.


Each satellite was deployed from Falcon 9’s second-stage at a specific time to avoid collisions. As seen in the photo above, SpaceX arranged all its customers’ 133 satellites in an organized way in dispensers inside the fairing. At approximately 58-minutes after liftoff, 48 very small satellites for the Earth-observing company Planet deployed, then17 spacecraft aboard Kepler’s port began deployment, and NASA’s V-R3x mission, plus 3 CubeSats aboard Maverick’s Mercury dispenser. At around 1 hour 8 minutes Nanoracks’ Eyries-1 mission's 9 payloads began deployment, then EXOport-2 carrying 28 spacecraft aboard. At 1 hour 13 minutes after liftoff, Capella-3 spacecraft was deployed, then EXOport-1 with two ICEYE satellites aboard, followed by Spaceflight Inc. customer iQPS's second SAR satellite, iQPs-2. At 1 hour 15 minutes Capella-4 spacecraft deployed, then Spaceflight Inc's Sherpa-FX1 spacecraft was released with 13 spacecraft on board. At 1 hour 16 minutes the D-Orbit’s Pulse was released to orbit carrying 20 spacecraft on board. SpaceX’s Starlink satellites were the last ones deployed at 1 hour 31 minutes after liftoff.



During the Transporter-1 mission SpaceX also recovered Falcon 9’s fairing halves as they returned from space and performed a parachute-assisted landing in the ocean. Recovering fairing to reuse saves the company around $6 million per mission. To recover the fairings, SpaceX operates a pair of twin ships called ‘GO Ms. Tree’ and ‘GO Ms. Chief,' pictured below.




About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

Follow me on X

Reading next

First Look: Tesla Model Y Single Piece Rear Casting Underbody
Tesla Shares Video of Model Y Full Automation Stamping Machine at Fremont Factory

Tesla Accessories