SpaceX, the independent American space company, set a new world record this week with the number of satellites launched into space on a single rocket. The SpaceX Falcon rocket was the spaceship used for the launch that took place from Florida in the USA. The Falcon rocket carried 143 satellites, or payloads as they are also known, in various forms and sizes. The number of satellites contained on the rocket was able to be so high thanks to new technologies that have seen the size of rockets decrease rapidly in the last few years.
The previous record for the number of satellites sent to orbit on one rocket was held by an Indian spaceship. A spaceship in 2017 was launched into space that carried the former record number of 104 satellites, also of varying shapes and sizes.
The 143 satellites were carried by the Falcon rocket from pole to pole over the Earth in a 500 km high path. The flight contained 10 satellites of SpaceX’s that are to be the latest addition to Starlink. Starlink is SpaceX’s worldwide attempt for broadband internet connection and a telecommunications megagiant company.
The flight also demonstrates the opening up of the space industry to large scale companies, who can buy commercial flights for packages to orbit for $1 million United States Dollars from SpaceX. On the Falcon rocket, San Francisco based Planet company had 48 satellites, the most out of all others gathered on the flight. The uptake in satellite launches has come from a mini-sized revolution to what is actually quite simple technology. Robust and cost effective components have been extracted from simple consumer electronics such as smartphones, and incorporated into space satellite technology. This has made it far easier for more actors to get involved in making their own space satellites.