Research in Engineering and Aviation

A brief history of rideshares

March 2011

Author(s):  M. Swartwout, S. Jayaram, R. Reed, R. Weller

“A brief history of rideshares,” 2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, 5-12 March 2011, paper 1518, pp. 1-15. DOI: 10.1109/AERO.2011.5747233


Rideshares (“piggyback” launches) go almost back to the first satellite launches, with the first one in 1960. Given the extraordinary cost of launch, it is natural to seek out ways to share costs, or to make use of the unused capacity of a larger launch vehicle. One tool that would be of use to mission planners is a statistical look at past rideshares to help understand the opportunities and obstacles for prospective future rideshares. The purpose of this paper is to begin to collect the data necessary for such analyses, and to start identifying the fundamental issues.