SpaceX Falcon 9 set to launch over 70 satellites in one go

A commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station blasted off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in April.

NASA

An upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 launch loaded with satellites is shaping up to be the high-tech spacefaring equivalent of a clown car.

Spaceflight Industries, which offers mission management services and arranges payload ride shares to space, is coordinating the launch of over 70 satellites for a mission called SSO-A: SmallSat Express. 

Spaceflight released more SSO-A details on Monday, calling it “the largest single rideshare mission from a US-based launch vehicle to date.” While sending over 70 satellites into space on a single rocket is impressive, a 2017 launch from India put 104 satellites into orbit.  

The SSO-A satellites hail from 35 different educational, commercial and government organizations, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Honeywell Aerospace, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the Nevada Museum of Art.  

The Nevada Museum of Art stands out on the customer list. The museum’s contribution is a small CubeSat that will carry an inflatable reflective sculpture designed by artist Trevor Paglen.

Spaceflight reserved an entire Falcon 9 from Elon Musk’s company  to handle the bevy of satellites. The rocket is scheduled to launch later this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, though a specific date hasn’t yet been set.

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