SpaceX will launch 105 spacecraft for multiple companies on Thursday, January 13, as part of the company’s third SmallSat Rideshare Program mission called Transporter-3. The program offers companies and organizations with a smaller budget the option of launching payload to 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-3 mission will launch 105 different spacecraft, CubeSats, microsats, satellites, and orbital transfer vehicles.
A previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida during a 29-minute launch window that opens at 10:25 a.m. EST tomorrow. The veteran first-stage booster previously launched nine missions: SpaceX’s first crewed flight to the International Space Station (Demo-2), the launch of the South Korean ANASIS-II satellite, NASA’s 21st Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-21), the first rideshare mission Transporter-1, and five Starlink missions.
The booster, identified as B1058-10, is filled with black scorch marks from reentering Earth’s atmosphere nine times before (pictured below). Soon after launching the Transporter-3 payloads to orbit, the booster will reenter the atmosphere a tenth time; It will land on terra firme on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at the U.S. Space Force Station. Recovering rocket boosters to reuse enables SpaceX to provide cost-effective flights to space.
Targeting launch of SpaceX’s third dedicated smallsat rideshare mission, Transporter-3, tomorrow, January 13. The 29-minute launch window opens at 10:25 a.m. EST → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/nCnDBDboar— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 12, 2022
The 105 space vehicles that will hitch-a-ride aboard the Falcon 9’s payload fairing will be deployed to orbit in a separate sequence around an hour after lift off. Each vehicle is placed in a special payload deployer. SpaceX’s deployer features Expendable Secondary Port Adapter (ESPA) rings to accommodate all payloads. The ESPA ports enable the company to get the most out of a rocket launch by deploying several small payloads in a single rocket flight. Basically, each payload is attached to ports (15 or 24 inch rings) so they could ride along together during a flight, an example illustration is depicted below. Companies also have the option to use their custom ESPA adapters for their satellites. Some of the payloads that will be launched as part of the Transporter-3 mission are: Planet Lab’s 44 SuperDove Earth-imaging satellites, an Ukrainian Satellite, as well as dozens of satellites from Guardian, Exolaunch, Kepler, Nanoracks, Satellogic, and Spaceflight. You can watch the Transporter-3 mission Live in the video below.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: ExoLaunch