SpaceX launched the first in a series of small satellite rideshare missions Sunday from Cape Canaveral, providing transportation for 143 U.S. and international spacecraft to low Earth orbit, a record number of satellites on a single flight. Liftoff occurred at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Sunday after bad weather forced SpaceX to scrub a launch attempt Saturday morning.
A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted off Saturday with India’s EOS 1 radar imaging satellite and nine rideshare payloads for customers based in the United States, Luxembourg, and Lithuania. The successful mission was India’s first launch in nearly a year due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Delayed a year by a launch failure, the coronavirus pandemic and a stretch of stiff upper level winds this summer, an Italian-made Vega rocket vaulted into orbit from French Guiana on Wednesday night and deployed 53 small satellites from 13 countries to punctuate a flawless return to flight mission.
After an unusual stretch of excessive high-altitude winds prevented launch from French Guiana of 53 small satellites on a Vega rocket in June — and no sign of a letup in winds in the coming days — Arianespace said Wednesday that the mission will be delayed to Aug. 17 to allow time for teams to recharge launcher and payload batteries.