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

Mariella Moon
·Associate Editor
·2 min read

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.

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.

On Twitter, SpaceX chief Elon Musk said Transporter-1 “is getting even more scrutiny than a Starlink flight” because so many companies are depending on it to go off without a hitch.

SpaceX will open Transporter-1’s launch window later today, January 23rd, at 9:40AM Eastern. The mission will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, and the company will livestream the event starting about 15 minutes before liftoff. You’ll be able to watch the launch as it happens in the video below:

Update 1/23 9:45AM ET: SpaceX has scrubbed the originally scheduled launch due to weather. It’s now targeting January 24th at 10AM Eastern.