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SpaceX launches 114 small satellites on first mission of 2023 – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX launches 114 small satellites on first mission of 2023 – Spaceflight Now

Watch a replay of our dwell protection of the countdown and launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from House Launch Complicated 40 at Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station, Florida. The Transporter 6 mission launched 114 small payloads from clients around the globe. Observe us on Twitter.

SpaceX’s first launch of the yr fired away from Cape Canaveral Tuesday and hauled 114 small satellites into polar orbit for operators in 23 international locations, deploying a variety of payloads for tech demo, Earth commentary, and communication missions.

A 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket did the lifting, kicking off the mission at 9:56 a.m. EST (1456 GMT) with a thundering launch from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station. The launch marked the first of as many as 100 missions on SpaceX’s schedule for 2023, following a report 61 launches final yr.

Launch pads on Florida’s House Coast have been busier than ever final yr, with 57 rocket flights aiming to place payloads into orbit. The U.S. House Pressure is making ready for as many as 87 launches from Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station and Kennedy House Middle in 2023. Learn our earlier story for particulars on the 2023 launch schedule.

For Tuesday’s mission, the Falcon 9 headed southeast from Cape Canaveral, then veered south alongside Florida’s east coast to put the mission’s 114 payloads into polar orbit. The primary stage fired its 9 Merlin engines for two minutes and 17 seconds, then separated from the Falcon higher stage to start its return to Florida.

The primary stage pulsed chilly fuel nitrogen thrusters to flip round and fly tail-first, then ignited three of the Merlin engines for a boost-back burn to reverse course and head again to Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station.

The booster prolonged titanium grid fins because it slowly cartwheeled on the fringe of house, offering aerodynamic aids to assist steer the rocket again by the environment. Then the rocket fired three of its engines once more for a re-entry burn. After slowing to a velocity lower than the velocity of sound, the rocket lit its heart engine for a closing braking maneuver simply earlier than a vertical landing on 4 legs at Touchdown Zone 1, lower than 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the launch pad.

The reusable first stage on Tuesday’s mission — tail quantity B1060 — aced its fifteenth launch and touchdown, tying a report for the most-flown booster in SpaceX’s stock. It debuted in June 2020 on a mission carrying a GPS navigation satellite tv for pc into house, and most not too long ago flew Oct. 8 on a mission with two Intelsat TV broadcasting satellites.

Whereas the booster returned to Cape Canaveral Tuesday the Falcon 9’s second stage engine burned about six minutes to succeed in a preliminary parking orbit. After coasting over Central America, the Pacific Ocean, and Antarctica, the higher stage briefly restarted its engine for 2 seconds round 55 minutes into the mission to place the satellite tv for pc payloads right into a near-circular orbit at an altitude of about 326 miles (525 kilometers), and an inclination of 97.5 levels to the equator.

Then the Falcon 9 rocket started a rigorously choreographed deployment sequence to launch its menagerie of payloads. The deployment sequence began at T+plus 58 minutes, with 82 separation occasions deliberate over 33 minutes.

SpaceX confirmed the completion of 78 of the 82 separation occasions. “Groups are persevering with to evaluate knowledge, although it could take clients a while to offer further data on the standing of their payloads,” the corporate tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

The payloads on-board SpaceX’s Transporter 6 mission — the corporate’s sixth devoted smallsat rideshare launch — got here from clients in Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Kuwait, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the US, the UK, and Uruguay.

The worldwide taste is a typical attribute for SpaceX’s Transporter rideshare missions, which mixture numbers small satellites onto a single Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX’s Transporter smallsat rideshare program started with the Transporter 1 mission in January 2021 with 143 small satellites and switch autos. Transporter 2 adopted in June 2021 with 88 payloads, and SpaceX launched 105 small payloads on Transporter 3 in January 2022. Transporter 4 final April delivered 40 small satellites and payloads to orbit, then Transporter 5 launched in Might with 59 spacecraft, switch autos, and hosted payloads.

SpaceX launches 114 small satellites on first mission of 2023 – Spaceflight Now
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 40 on the Transporter 6 mission. Credit score: SpaceX

There’s excessive demand for SpaceX’s rideshare launch service. A number of SpaceX clients have mentioned the worth for a slot on a Transporter mission is unmatched within the launch business.

On its web site, SpaceX says it prices clients $1.2 million to launch a payload of 440 kilos (200 kilograms) on a devoted rideshare flight to sun-synchronous orbit. The value is enabled by price reductions from reusing Falcon 9 rocket {hardware}. SpaceX has blamed inflation for climbing the worth for a 440-pound payload slot from $1 million.

Dealer corporations like Berlin-based Exolaunch, the Italian launch dealer D-Orbit, and ISILaunch reserved ports on the Transporter 6 payload stack, then divided that capability amongst a number of small satellite tv for pc clients.

One in all ISILaunch’s clients on Transporter 6 was Planet, the San Francisco-based distant sensing firm. Planet says it has 36 SuperDove Earth-imaging satellites, every in regards to the dimension of a toaster oven, on-board the Transporter 6 mission.

“We’re excited to once more work with SpaceX to convey 36 SuperDoves to orbit, our eighth general launch with the launch supplier,” mentioned Mike Safyan, Planet’s vp of launch, mentioned earlier than the Transporter 6 mission. “As soon as in orbit, these satellites will be part of our present fleet and work to ship cutting-edge geospatial options to our international buyer base.”

The brand new satellites will replenish Planet’s present fleet of round 200 lively satellites, the most important Earth-observing constellation on the planet, the corporate mentioned. The SuperDove satellites every have optical cameras with sensors in eight spectral bands, supplying distant sensing knowledge to industrial clients, the U.S. authorities’s intelligence companies, and environmental monitoring teams.

5 of the SuperDove satellites are adorned with laser-etched paintings and quotes celebrating the legacy of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, based on Planet.

The Transporter 6 mission additionally deployed a roughly 400-pound (178-kilogram) satellite tv for pc for EOS Information Analytics, a Silicon Valley startup based by Max Polyakov, a Ukrainian  entrepreneur and investor. The EOS SAT 1 spacecraft is designed to seize medium to excessive decision photos of Earth’s floor, with an emphasis on agricultural monitoring. It is without doubt one of the largest satellites on the Transporter 6 launch, and was constructed by Dragonfly Aerospace in South Africa.

There have been six industrial house tugs and orbital switch autos on the Transporter 6 mission, every able to carrying a number of smaller satellites into completely different orbits for “last-mile” supply in low Earth orbit.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster descends to Touchdown Zone 1 Tuesday to wrap up its fifteenth flight to house. Credit score: SpaceX

The house tugs can change their altitude, inclination, or different orbital parameters, hauling small payloads to completely different places in house than the drop-off orbit of the principle rocket. The switch autos can reposition small satellites into orbits extra favorable for his or her missions.

Two of the switch autos on the Transporter 6 mission got here from the Italian firm D-Orbit, which is able to deploy a number of nanosatellites into orbit within the weeks after launch. D-Orbit’s two ION satellite tv for pc carriers will launch 4 small satellites for a knowledge relay and asset monitoring constellation owned by the Swiss firm Astrocast. One of many ION tugs will even deploy Kelpie, a 9-pound (4-kilogram) CubeSat to offer maritime monitoring companies for Orbcomm.

One other orbital switch car developed by a startup named Launcher was additionally mounted on the Transporter 6 payload stack. Launcher’s Orbiter SN1 house tug is fitted with a ethane/nitrous oxide propulsion system to alter its orbital altitude and inclination, and the corporate says the car is able to accommodating as much as 880 kilos (400 kilograms) of payload mass.

The Orbiter SN1 mission carries deployable satellites for U.S.-based Skyline Celestial, Innova House of Argentina, Italy’s NPC SpaceMind, Cal Poly Pomona, Stanford College, and an undisclosed buyer. The spacecraft additionally hosts a payload containing cremated human stays for Past Burials, and a phased array antenna from CesiumAstro to show a high-data fee Ka-band communications system that could possibly be used on future small satellites in Earth orbit and on the moon.

An Australian firm named Skykraft additionally launched a 660-pound (300-kilogram) payload on the Transporter 6 mission. The Skykraft package deal consists of the corporate’s personal orbital switch car, which is able to separate from the Falcon 9 rocket after which later deploy 4 of its personal satellites for Skykraft’s deliberate constellation of 210 spacecraft offering air visitors administration companies. Skykraft says its satellites will relay real-time communications between air visitors management and pilots flying over distant elements of the ocean.

San Francisco-based Epic Aerospace additionally launched its first orbital switch car, referred to as Chimera LEO 1, on the Transporter 6 mission. Epic Aerospace has not mentioned if its first switch car will deploy any buyer payloads, or if the mission is only a know-how demonstration.

And Momentus’s second orbital house tug, referred to as the Vigoride 5 Orbital Service Car, rode to house Tuesday on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The Vigoride 5 Orbital Service Car, or OSV, follows Momentus’s first house tug demo mission, which launched on SpaceX’s Transporter 5 rideshare mission in Might.

Momentus carried out further testing of its second orbital switch car after encountering anomalies on the primary take a look at mission in 2022. The pre-flight checks included photo voltaic array deployment testing. Credit score: Momentus

The primary Momentus demonstration mission bumped into hassle quickly after separating from the Falcon 9 rocket. The Vigoride 3 switch car encountered communications points and did not open its photo voltaic arrays, placing the spacecraft in an influence crunch that prevented it from finishing all mission targets. Momentus mentioned the Vigoride 3 house tug ultimately launched seven of its 9 buyer satellite tv for pc payloads.

Momentus hopes to check the Vigoride switch car’s water-based microwave electrothermal thruster system, a kind of propulsion system that gives larger effectivity than typical rocket fuels, and better thrust than ion engines.

The Vigoride 5 house tug will deploy a small CubeSat into orbit for Qosmosys, a Singapore-based house enterprise.

The opposite payload on the Vigoride 5 house tug comes from Caltech, which is flying {hardware} that could possibly be used sooner or later to generate electrical energy in house and beam the vitality again to Earth to be used on the bottom.

The 110-pound (50-kilogram) House Photo voltaic Energy Demonstrator payload will take a look at a scaled-down 6-by-6-foot deployable construction that simulates mechanisms wanted to assemble an enormous energy era station in house. Engineers will even consider the efficiency of twenty-two kinds of photo voltaic cells to find out which design is handiest, and take a look at microwave energy transmitters wanted to beam vitality again to Earth.

“It doesn’t matter what occurs, this prototype is a significant step ahead,” mentioned Ali Hajimiri, a professor {of electrical} engineering at Caltech and co-director of the establishment’s House Photo voltaic Energy Challenge. “It really works right here on Earth, and has handed the rigorous steps required of something launched into house. There are nonetheless many dangers, however having gone by the entire course of has taught us worthwhile classes. We imagine the house experiments will present us with loads of further helpful data that can information the undertaking as we proceed to maneuver ahead.”

The solar energy experiment’s deployable construction employs “ultra-thin composite supplies to realize unprecedented packaging effectivity and suppleness,” Caltech mentioned in a press launch.

“The whole versatile (microwave) array, in addition to its core wi-fi energy switch digital chips and transmitting parts, have been designed from scratch,” Hajimiri mentioned. “This wasn’t constructed from gadgets you should buy as a result of they didn’t even exist. This elementary rethinking of the system from the bottom up is crucial to understand scalable options for SSPP (House Photo voltaic Energy Challenge).”

Launcher’s Orbiter SN1 switch car hosts a number of payloads on SpaceX’s Transporter 6 mission. Credit score: Launcher / John Kraus

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was additionally loaded with three radar distant sensing microsatellites for the Finnish firm ICEYE, and two comparable radar imaging satellites for Umbra, a startup primarily based in Santa Barbara, California.

There have been 4 optical Earth commentary microsatellites on-board for Satellogic, a distant sensing firm headquartered in Uruguay. Two of them will likely be primarily used to survey Albanian territory by an settlement between Satellogic and the Albanian authorities. The 4 new satellites will be part of 26 Earth-imaging spacecraft presently in Satellogic’s fleet.

The Transporter 6 mission additionally deployed two 132-pound (60-kilogram) spacecraft for Lynk International, a Virginia-based firm growing know-how to attach consumer-grade cell phones by satellites. A satellite tv for pc referred to as YAM 5 — But One other Mission 5 — from Loft Orbital was additionally aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. YAM 5 is a “condosat” internet hosting a number of buyer tech demo payloads, together with a flight laptop, an infrared digicam, and telecom programs.

A U.S. House Pressure climate mission on the Transporter 6 launch will take a look at a prototype cloud imaging instrument referred to as the Speedy Revisit Optical Cloud Imager, or RROCI. The House Pressure instrument is hosted on a small satellite tv for pc developed by Orion House Options.

Two navy satellites from Norway and the Netherlands will work in tandem to show the navy use of a microsatellite spectrum monitoring system to detect and geolocate radar emissions.

A satellite tv for pc named Sternula 1, owned by the Danish firm Sternula, will take a look at a VHF communications system for maritime communications. A briefcase-size spacecraft named NSLSat 2 grew to become the second satellite tv for pc launched for the Israeli firm NSLComm, which is growing a constellation of smallsats for high-throughput communications.

The Transporter 6 mission launched 4 new satellites for Kleos House of Luxembourg, which operates a fleet of spacecraft to detect and geolocate radio frequency transmissions, offering intelligence on maritime exercise for governments and industrial clients. One other small satellite tv for pc referred to as STAR VIBE from Scanway House, a Polish firm, will validate the efficiency of two optical payloads, one for Earth commentary and one other for satellite tv for pc self-inspection.

A Planet SuperDove with the “Boldly Go Marketing campaign” paintings laser etched onto its facet panels to honor the work of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Credit score: Planet

Different CubeSat payloads on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket included the BRO-8 satellite tv for pc for the French maritime surveillance firm Unseenlabs, the Menut Earth commentary spacecraft from the Spanish firm Open Cosmos, the Guardian Alpha tech demo satellite tv for pc for the UK firm OrbAstro, and the Connecta T1.2 testbed for the Turkish web of issues firm Plan-S.

A satellite tv for pc named Platform 2 from the Bulgarian agency EnduroSat was additionally on-board. It’s one other “condosat” mission to assist testing of a number of buyer payloads, together with plasma and arc-based thrusters from Magdrive and Hypernova.

A French CubeSat referred to as Gama Alpha will unfurl a 789-square-foot (73.3-square-meter) photo voltaic sail in low Earth orbit and try to harness gentle vitality from the solar as a way of propulsion. Sony’s Star Sphere CubeSat carries a full-frame digicam with a 28-135 mm lens. Sony says chosen artists and house fanatics will be capable of command the digicam to take photos of Earth, sunrises and sunsets, the moon and stars.

There have been additionally six CubeSats on the Transporter 6 mission for Spire International’s constellation satellites for ship monitoring and climate knowledge assortment, plus 12 tiny “picosats” for Swarm Applied sciences, an organization owned by SpaceX. Swarm is growing a low-data-rate satellite tv for pc communications system. Every of the Swarm satellites is in regards to the dimension of a slice of bread.

The Transporter 6 launch additionally positioned into orbit a small CubeSat from Ukraine to check thermal management know-how, Kuwait’s first satellite tv for pc mission, and an newbie radio CubeSat from the Czech Republic.

SpaceX’s subsequent launch is about for Sunday, Jan. 8, with the subsequent group of 40 web satellites for OneWeb’s industrial broadband constellation. That launch will take off from Cape Canaveral, and is scheduled for roughly 11:45 p.m. EST Sunday (0445 GMT Monday).

ROCKET: Falcon 9 (B1060.15)

MISSION: Transporter 6

PAYLOAD: 114 microsatellites, CubeSats, orbital switch autos, and satellites to be deployed later

LAUNCH SITE: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station, Florida

LAUNCH DATE: Jan. 3, 2023

LAUNCH TIME: 9:56:00 a.m. EST (1456:00 GMT)

LAUNCH WINDOW: One minute

WEATHER FORECAST: 90% chance of acceptable climate

BOOSTER RECOVERY: Touchdown Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station

LAUNCH AZIMUTH: South-southeast, then south

TARGET ORBIT: Roughly 326 miles (525 kilometers), 97.5 levels inclination

LAUNCH TIMELINE:

  • T+00:00: Liftoff
  • T+01:12: Most aerodynamic strain (Max-Q)
  • T+02:17: First stage most important engine cutoff (MECO)
  • T+02:20: Stage separation
  • T+02:28: Second stage engine ignition
  • T+02:33: First stage boost-back burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+03:20: First stage boost-back burn ends
  • T+03:46: Fairing jettison
  • T+06:44: First stage entry burn ignition (three engines)
  • T+07:07: First stage entry burn ends
  • T+07:58: First stage touchdown burn ignition (one engine)
  • T+08:23: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 1)
  • T+08:30: First stage touchdown
  • T+55:20: Second stage engine restart
  • T+55:22: Second stage engine cutoff (SECO 2)
  • T+58:24: KuwaitSat 1 separation
  • T+58:34: BDSAT 2 separation
  • T+58:35: SharedSat 2211 separation
  • T+58:44: Spire’s Lemur 2 Emmaculate separation
  • T+58:55: Spire’s Lemur 2 Fuentetaja-01 separation
  • T+59:51: Connecta T1.2 separation
  • T+1:00:00: Gama Alpha separation
  • T+1:00:01: BRO-8 separation
  • T+1:00:12: Menut separation
  • T+1:00:18: MilSpace2 Huygens separation
  • T+1:00:24: Spire’s Lemur 2 Disclaimer separation
  • T+1:00:35: STAR VIBE separation
  • T+1:00:55: Spire’s Lemur 2 Stevealbers separation
  • T+1:01:11: Kleos KSF-3A separation
  • T+1:02:02: MilSpace2 Birkeland separation
  • T+1:02:07: Swarm’s SpaceBEE picosat separation
  • T+1:02:47: Spire’s Lemur 2 Mmolo separation
  • T+1:02:54: Kleos KSF-3B separation
  • T+1:03:25: Kleos KSF-3C separation
  • T+1:04:47: Spire’s Lemur 2 Philari separation
  • T+1:05:02: Kleos KSF-3C separation
  • T+1:05:03: First Planet SuperDove Flock 4Y separation
  • T+1:05:11: EWS RROCI separation
  • T+1:05:12: PolyItan HP-30 separation
  • T+1:05:23: Guardian Alpha separation
  • T+1:05:40: Sony Sphere Eye 1 separation
  • T+1:05:50: NSLSat 2 separation
  • T+1:06:30: Sternula 1 separation
  • T+1:19:42: Final Planet SuperDove Flock 4Y separation
  • T+1:19:46: Lynk Tower 3 separation
  • T+1:20:00: Albania 1 separation
  • T+1:20:02: Lynk Tower 4 separation
  • T+1:20:42: YAM 5 separation
  • T+1:21:48: Satellogic NewSat 34 separation
  • T+1:22:03: Albania 2 separation
  • T+1:22:58: First ICEYE satellite tv for pc separation
  • T+1:23:04: Second ICEYE satellite tv for pc separation
  • T+1:23:46: First Umbra satellite tv for pc separation
  • T+1:23:50: Second Umbra satellite tv for pc separation
  • T+1:24:47: Satellogic NewSat 35 separation
  • T+1:24:59: D-Orbit’s ION SCV-007 Superb Gratia separation
  • T+1:26:05: D-Orbit’s ION SCV-008 Fierce Franciscus separation
  • T+1:26:11: Launcher’s Orbiter SN1 separation
  • T+1:27:31: Third ICEYE satellite tv for pc separation
  • T+1:27:34: Skykraft 1 separation
  • T+1:28:10: Vigoride 5 separation
  • T+1:28:54: Chimera LEO 1 separation
  • T+1:31:10: EOS SAT 1 separation

MISSION STATS:

  • 195th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket since 2010
  • 204th launch of Falcon rocket household since 2006
  • fifteenth launch of Falcon 9 booster B1060
  • 166th Falcon 9 launch from Florida’s House Coast
  • 108th Falcon 9 launch from pad 40
  • 163rd launch general from pad 40
  • 134th flight of a reused Falcon 9 booster
  • sixth Transporter rideshare mission launched by SpaceX
  • 1st Falcon 9 launch of 2023
  • 1st launch by SpaceX in 2023
  • 1st orbital launch primarily based out of Cape Canaveral in 2023





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