The SpaceX prototype during a test flight on December 9, 2020. -

Miguel Roberts / AP / SIPA

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on Sunday carrying a record number of satellites, the company said.

It took off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, 24 hours after the date initially scheduled for its flight which was postponed due to bad weather.

Falcon 9 launches 143 spacecraft to orbit - the most ever deployed on a single mission - completing SpaceX's first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission

- SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 25, 2021

A company official said in a video accompanying the launch that the craft was carrying 133 commercial and government satellites as well as 10 SpaceX satellites.

“The largest number” of satellites “ever deployed in a single mission,” he added.

Rideshare program

SpaceX flies Falcon 9 as part of a “rideshare” (shared launch) program in which smaller companies pay Elon Musk's group to carry their technology into space.

In a series of tweets, SpaceX said all 143 satellites had been deployed.

The company founded by Elon Musk wants to put thousands of small satellites into orbit to form the constellation dubbed "Starlink", which is to provide high-speed Internet from space.

Scientists have expressed concern over the number of objects orbiting Earth.

SpaceX says its satellites are designed to burn in the atmosphere after a few years.

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