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Companies can book SpaceX’s launch services aboard a Falcon 9 rocket through its ‘SmallSat’ Rideshare Program. The rideshare program allows companies to launch small satellites to space destinations for as low as $1 million, by sharing spacecraft with a larger payload during a mission. In the grand scheme of things, a $1 million price tag is quite cheap for a satellite deployment, booking an entire rocket flight can cost up to $60 million. So, the rideshare program gives companies with a smaller budget the opportunity to launch small payloads into orbit ranging up to 200 kilograms (440 lbs), adding $5,000 per kilogram to the cost, if the satellite is a bit heavier. It’s the first program of its kind that allows essentially anyone with the right technology and enough money to launch anything into space. Exolaunch, a German launch services provider, announced plans to deploy multiple small satellites on a SpaceX rideshare mission. The company did not detail how many satellites it would deploy, nor the cost. SpaceNews reports, SpaceX's Commercial Sales Vice President, Tom Ochinero, said in a statement:
“Exolaunch needs a simple, reliable and cost-effective rideshare launch solution to best serve their customers. SpaceX is proud to earn their business, and we look forward to working with them on our first dedicated rideshare mission targeted for later this year.”
The rideshare mission is scheduled for December. Exolaunch offers customers specialized equipment to arrange payloads of microsatellites. The company often books other rocket providers to launch its customers' payloads into orbit. It is the first time Exolaunch contracts SpaceX’s launch services. On April 14, Exolaunch Commercial Director Jeanne Medvedeva told SpaceNews:
“Participation in SpaceX’s smallsat rideshare program will allow Exolaunch to offer reliable and cost-efficient rideshare options out of the United States. Most of our customers have been proactively requesting such opportunities.”
SpaceX will deploy multiple Exolaunch satellites into sun-synchronous orbit. Exolaunch aims to demonstrate how its multi-port adapter for microsatellites and CubeSats works during the rideshare mission. “We’re accommodating several microsatellites below 100 kilograms and a cluster of CubeSats,” Medvedeva stated. “These are European and U.S. smallsats coming from our existing and new customers.”
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.