SpaceX is set to start the very first of its dedicated rideshare assignments — an offering it introduced in 2019 which allows small satellite operators to reserve a portion of a payload onto a Falcon 9 launch. SpaceX’s rocket has a relatively large payload capacity in contrast to the size of lots of the tiny satellites produced now, therefore a rideshare mission in this way provides smaller businesses and startups an opportunity to acquire their spacecraft in orbit without breaking the bank. Now’s attempt is scheduled for 10 AM EST (7 AM PST) following a first attempt yesterday was canceled because of weather. Thus far, the weather appears much better for today.
The freight capsule atop the Falcon 9 flying now holds a total of 143 satellites according to SpaceX, which is a new record for the maximum number of satellites being launched on a single rocket — beating out a payload of 104 spacecraft delivered by the Indian Space Research Organization’s PSLV-C37 launch back in February 2017. It’s going to be a key demonstration not only of SpaceX’s rideshare capacities but also of the intricate coordination involved in a launch that includes the deployment of numerous payloads into distinct goal orbits in relatively quick succession.
This launch will be closely watched in particular because of its handling of orbital traffic direction because it certainly heralds exactly what the future of personal space launches can look like in relation to the quantity of activity. Some of the satellites flying on this assignment aren’t much larger than an iPad, so industry specialists will be paying close attention to how they are deployed and monitored to prevent any potential conflicts.
Some of the payloads being found today include significant quantities of startup spacecraft, including 36 of Swarm’s tiny IoT network satellites, and eight of Kepler’s GEN-1 communications giants.
The launching flow above should start around 15 minutes ahead of the mission start, which can be set for 10 AM EST (7 AM PST) today.