SpaceX will conduct its second rideshare mission this week called ‘Transporter-2’. The company’s SmallSat Rideshare Program offers companies and organizations with a small budget the option of launching payload orbit by sharing Falcon 9 fairing space with dozens of payloads at a much lower cost than booking an entire ride to space, which can cost up to $62 million. The Transporter-2 mission will launch around 100 satellites for different companies and organizations atop a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission is currently scheduled for Friday, June 25th at 2:56 p.m. EST [date is subject to change].
The previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster that will conduct the Transporter-2 mission previously supported seven missions, identified as booster production number B1060-8. It first launched the U.S. Space Force's GPS III-3 satellite on June 30, 20, then launched two Starlink missions that same year. Its fourth flight was the deployment of Turkey’s Türksat-5A satellite in January 2021. Then it launched three more Starlink missions in February, March, and April this year. Its eighth flight will be the upcoming Transporter-2 mission. Reusing Falcon 9’s first-stage booster enables SpaceX to offer cheaper flights to orbit. SpaceX is currently the only company in the world that can reliably reuse orbital-class rockets. They aim to reuse boosters in its fleet at least 10 times.
The 100 small payloads that will hitch-a-ride together aboard the Falcon 9’s payload fairing. The satellites will ride inside a special payload deployer, capable of holding all one hundred small satellites (an example is shown in the graphic above). SpaceX’s deployer, features Expendable Secondary Port Adapter (ESPA) rings to accommodate all payloads. The ESPA ports reduces launch costs for the mission and enables rocket companies to get the most out of a rocket launch by deploying several small payloads in a single rocket flight. Basically, the small payloads are attached to ports (15 or 24 inch rings) so they could ride along together during a flight. Companies also have the option to use their custom ESPA adapters for their satellites. Some of the payloads that will ride the Transporter-2 mission are listed below.
The SHERPA-FX satellite dispenser designed by Spaceflight will ride during the upcoming rideshare mission. SHERPA-FX will deploy 36 secondary payloads comprised of 6 microsatellites, 29 CubeSat’s and one hosted payload, from 14 organizations across 7 countries.
Swarm Technologies’ SpaceBEES will ride aboard SHERPA-FX, the 1/4U satellites ‘are the smallest 2-way commercial communications satellites in the world, and are used to provide low-cost, global connectivity to remote IoT devices.’
In addition, SpaceX will also launch the SHERPA-LTE1. The LTE1 is equipped with its own propulsion system to launch its payloads to a designated orbit. It will carry the Shasta, Tiger-2, ARTHUR-1, Faraday Phoenix, Polar Vigilance KSF1, Tenzing satellites. And another company, Nanoracks, will launch 3 LEMUR satellites. The LEMUR small satellite constellation is tasked with monitoring traffic and observing different aspects of Earth, including weather.
Exolaunch will launch around 30 satellites during the Transporter-2 mission. These payloads include ICEYE, YAM-3, TUBIN, D-2/AtlaCom-1, and XR-2. A company called ‘D-Orbit’ will launch the Neptuno, Spartan, QMR-KWT, Nebula, Ghalib, NAPA 2 / RTAF-SAT 2, LaserCub, ADEO, Worldfloods and W-Cube payloads.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX