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WATCH NOW: SpaceX to Launch Falcon 9 Transporter-1 first dedicated Rideshare mission @replay

Published on 24 Jan 2021 / In News & Politics

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter-1 rideshare mission for a variety of organizations. The rocket will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Launch window begins at 10:00am ET (03:00pm UTC)

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SpaceX will be launching 133 satellites and 3 additional payloads; it will also be the debut of Spaceflight’s SHERPA-FX stage. SpaceX will place the satellites and third stage into a 500 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

The customers on this rideshare mission are SpaceX, NanoRacks, NanoAvionics, Exolaunch, Swarm Technologies, Spaceflight, HawkEye, NASA, iQPS, Umbra Labs, Celestis, Astrocast, Tyvax Nano-Satellite Systems, US DOD, USAF, KelplarianTech, NearSpace, Space Domain Awareness, R2, LINCOLNSHIRE, inOrbit, PlanetiQ, Capella, Kepler, Astro Digital, D-Orbit, Israel defense, spaceQ, UVSQ, and more (the satellites aboard are constantly changing and could be added/removed up until encapsulation).

Transporter-1 will also include 10 Starlink satellites. These satellites will be the first Starlink satellites in a polar orbit. These satellites will likely be used to test communication in very high altitudes, which the current LEO constellation does not cover. This launch will mark 1,023 Starlink satellites launched, to date.

Nanoracks will be launching 9 Lemur-2 satellites on Transporter-1. The Lemur-2 constellation is an Earth observation and traffic monitoring constellation built and operated by Spire. The satellites are able to use GPS signal occultation to measure pressure, humidity, and temperature. Lemur-2 is used to monitor trade, prevent piracy, track assets, assist in search and rescue operations, and help prevent illegal fishing.

Also being launched on Transporter-1 are 48 SuperDove satellites. These are part of Planet’s SkySat constellation. The SuperDove is an upgraded version of the Dove, which will increase the resolution offered by the constellation. Planet offers a 72 cm resolution, but after their satellites are upgraded the constellation will be under 50 cm. The SuperDoves satellites have an upgraded camera. The camera is more color accurate, producing a better and sharper image. This means they provide more accurate surface reflection values. The new satellites also feature additional bands. This will allow them to better monitor agriculture, leading to new machine learning applications.

The SpaceBee constellation is a satellite constellation with the goal of demonstrating two-way communication between cheap and low-data satellites.

For the first time Falcon 9 will be flying with a third stage on the Transporter-1 mission. The third “transfer” stage, the SHERPA-FX, is a satellite dispenser designed by Spaceflight to deploy secondary payloads so that other payloads cannot interfere with communications. While the SHERPA-FX does not have any on-board propulsion, it is the first of several models of SHERPA. Future versions will have a monopropellant to boost payloads into different orbits. On this mission, SHERPA will be carrying 18 payloads.

Other satellites on Transporter-1 include UVSQ-SAT, Hugo, ADELIS-SAMSON, PULSE, Landmapper, Kepler GEN1, GNOMES-2, Capella Whitney, InOrbit Now, LINCS, and XR-1.

The booster supporting this mission is B1058. This booster has flown four times; its maiden flight was the SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2, which launched on May 30, 2020. The booster’s second flight was on ANASIS-II, which launched on July 20, 2020. The booster’s third flight was on SpaceX’s Starlink V1.0 L12 mission, which launched on October 6, 2020. Finally, CRS-21 was B1058’s fourth flight, which launched on December 6, 2020.

Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 will conduct 2 burns. These burns will softly touch down the booster on Of Course I Still Love You.

SpaceX is the first entity ever that recovers and reflies its fairings. The recovery vessels, Go Ms. Tree and Go Ms. Chief, will most likely attempt to recover the fairing halves.

This will be the most satellites ever launched at once, 1st SpaceX dedicated rideshare mission, 1st Falcon 9 launch with a “transfer” stage, 1st Starlink satellites to go to a polar orbit, 106th Falcon 9 launch, 52nd re-flight of a booster, 3rd launch for SpaceX in 2021 and 23rd consecutive booster landing, a new record for SpaceX.

Courtesy of SpaceX
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