A veteran rocket from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company has successfully launched the Transporter-1 mission, breaking the record for the most number of satellites ever flown on a single rocket. The company’s Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, with 143 commercial and government satellites on board. The previous record for the most satellites sent to space in one trip was held by an Indian rocket which carried 104 satellites in a 2017 launch. The mission carried 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink internet network, and more than 130 satellites for a variety of customers including Planet, which operates a constellation of Earth-imaging satellites. The satellites were launched into a sun-synchronous orbit, one that stays in constant daylight, about 500 kilometers above Earth’s surface. About eight minutes later, the bottom section of the rocket returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean. The launch was the first in SpaceX’s new Rideshare Program announced in 2019 and designed to launch many satellites at a time and enable organizations to reach space at a lower cost. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are much larger than Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit’s rockets, and they’re typically used to launch hefty communications or spy satellites or Dragon spacecraft, which ferry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station. Deciding to dedicate additional missions just to launching batches of smallsats is a company first, and it’s a sign of how much interest in the industry has grown. As the number of devices in orbit grows, however, experts are becoming increasingly concerned about congestion. Satellites have collided in orbit before, and though such incidents don’t post much of a threat to people on the ground, the debris from the crash can stay in orbit for years or decades.