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The Falcon 9 rocket taking flight. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX just launched 143 payloads to orbit, setting a new record for the most ever launched on a single rocket.

Why it matters: This launch is part of SpaceX's bid to get a piece of the growing market to launch small satellites to orbit.

Where it stands: The Falcon 9 rocket — which launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida — was effectively a rideshare for the dozens of commercial spacecraft packed into it.

  • The satellites launched on this mission included 48 Earth-gazing satellites from Planet, human ashes aboard a Celestis Inc. flight, 10 Starlink satellites and other small spacecraft from a variety of customers.
  • The Falcon 9's first stage booster, which landed on a drone ship in the Atlantic, had been to space four times before this launch, including launching SpaceX's first crewed mission last summer.

The intrigue: Typically, small satellites are launched as secondary payloads when larger satellites have extra room aboard their rockets, but this rideshare launch was different.

  • Instead of being forced to wait for a large payload to be ready, this mission was designed to fly at a scheduled date, meaning that as long as the small satellites were ready, they could fly on time.
  • Also, you can book a ride for your satellite online, in true SpaceX fashion.

The big picture: Other rocket companies — like Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit — launch dedicated missions for small payloads like these, but SpaceX is positioning itself as a potentially cheaper alternative for customers that may not need a dedicated launch.

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
39 mins ago - Health

Experts fear a bad flu season on top of COVID

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Public health officials are warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a dangerous double whammy: COVID and flu, spreading simultaneously.

The big picture: The Delta variant is still circulating across the U.S., and the Omicron variant isn't far behind. On top of that, experts see potential warning signs of a bad flu season, which could leave millions of Americans vulnerable and strain health care resources.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.