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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

SpaceX rocket launches record number of satellites into orbit

Company says Falcon 9 launched 143 spacecraft under its SmallSat Rideshare Programme

A veteran rocket from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company launched 143 spacecraft into orbit on Sunday, a record for the most spaceships deployed on a single mission.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10am (7pm UAE) from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The reusable rocket ferried 133 commercial and government spacecraft and 10 Starlink satellites to space – part of the SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Programme, which provides access to space for small satellite operators seeking a reliable, affordable ride to orbit, according to the company.

SpaceX delayed the launch one day because of unfavourable weather. On January 22 Mr Musk, also chief executive of Tesla, wrote on Twitter: "Launching many small satellites for a wide range of customers tomorrow. Excited about offering low-cost access to orbit for small companies!"

SpaceX has previously launched into orbit more than 800 satellites of the several thousand needed to offer broadband internet globally, a $10 billion investment it estimates could generate $30 billion annually to help fund Mr Musk's interplanetary rocket programme, called Starship.

Updated: January 25, 2021 01:34 PM

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