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In space travel, the launch of small satellites or small space probes together with the payloads of other customers with the same launch vehicle is referred to as Rideshare (German for "community trip") . In this way, small payloads can be transported at relatively low prices. The term primarily stands for a service that brings together supply and demand for transport capacities into space.

Provider (selection)

Spaceflight Industries

The US company Spaceflight Industries , founded in 2010, has specialized in rideshare flights from the start. On the one hand, Spaceflight arranges secondary payloads on flights that are not yet fully utilized and, on the other hand, also books entire rocket launches for its own customers. Spaceflight organized rideshare missions with the rockets Falcon 9 (payload capacity up to 23 tons), PSLV (4 tons) and Electron (0.2 tons). According to its own information, the company brokered the launch of 270 satellites by August 2019.


With the Vega rocket, the European space service provider Arianespace is offering a Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS, "mission service for small space vehicles"). These are rideshare flights in low earth orbits . A first launch with 42 payloads was planned for September 2019, but has been postponed to 2020 due to the false start of a Vega in July 2019. Some of the SMSS payloads are brokered via sub-providers such as Spaceflight Industries and the Italian company D-Orbit.

Arianespace would like to be the first provider to Template: future / in 2 yearsoperate Rideshare flights in geostationary orbits (so-called direct-to-GEO flights) from 2022 . The Ariane 6 rocket , whose maiden flight is planned for 2021, will be used for this purpose.


The US space company SpaceX announced its own Smallsat Rideshare Program in August 2019 . While at Spaceflight certain payloads are firmly booked for certain flights, SpaceX would like to have the Rideshare flights start regularly on fixed dates. A payload then starts its next free flight as soon as it is ready. This method has the advantage that the launches of other customers are not postponed if the provision of individual payloads is delayed. A disadvantage is that only the ( sun-synchronous ) orbits specified by SpaceX are available. The use of space tugs , which function similarly to a kick stage , should, however, enable the onward transport of satellites with a mass of up to 250 kg in different orbits.

The launches will initially take place every four months with Falcon 9, starting with a first flight at the end of 2020. SpaceX also announced monthly flight opportunities from April 2020 with launches for its own Starlink satellite constellation . All Rideshare payloads are attached to the upper rocket stage with standardized, stackable ESPA adapter rings.

With a price of 1 million US dollars for the launch of a 200 kg satellite, SpaceX is far below the previous market price level of around 5 million US dollars.


The Berlin- based company Exolaunch has been organizing rideshare missions with Soyuz rockets since 2013 . Starting with the first SpaceX rideshare flight, Exolaunch also wants to broker payloads for the Falcon 9. The company uses its own adapters for Cubesats and other small satellites, which were also used with the New Zealand small rocket Electron .


The Indian space agency ISRO holds the world record for the largest number of satellites in a Rideshare flight . When the PSLV rocket launched C37 on February 15, 2017, it launched a total of 104 satellites into space.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Stephen Clark: Launch providers announce rideshare missions large and small. In: Spaceflight Now. August 19, 2019, accessed on August 22, 2019 .
  2. ^ Jeff Foust: Spaceflight purchases first commercial flight of new Indian small launcher. In: Spacenews. August 6, 2019, accessed on August 22, 2019 .
  3. ^ Jeff Foust: Arianespace completes manifest for Vega dedicated rideshare mission. In: Spacenews. May 9, 2019, accessed August 23, 2019 .
  4. ^ Launch Schedule. Spaceflight Now, accessed on August 23, 2019 (English, currently no start date for the VEGA SSM first flight).
  5. Momentus To Provide In-Space Transportation Service to its Customers On SpaceX SmallSat Rideshare Launch . SpaceX press release dated August 22, 2019.
  6. Smallsat Rideshare Program. SpaceX, accessed August 29, 2019 . SpaceX press release of August 29, 2019 via Twitter message from Chris Bergin, Nasaspaceflight.
  7. Simon Alvarez: SpaceX announces Falcon 9 SmallSat Rideshare program with launches to start in 2020. In: Teslarati. August 5, 2019, accessed on August 22, 2019 .
  8. Frank Wunderlich-Pfeiffer: Only one million US dollars for a satellite. In: golem.de . August 29, 2019. Retrieved August 29, 2019 .
  9. ^ Spaceflight - Schedule and Pricing . Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  10. Small Satellite Market 2018 Global Industry Size, Share, Forecasts Analysis, Company Profiles, Competitive Landscape and Key Regions 2023 | 360 Market Updates , August 22, 2019.
  11. Debra Werner: Exolaunch signs first launch agreement with SpaceX . Spacenews, April 13, 2020.
  12. 50 Years of ISRO: Hits and misses in India's space journey. In: Business Today. August 16, 2019, accessed August 22, 2019 .