Last night, April 14, SpaceX performed its seventh SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, known as Transporter-7. A total of 51 small spacecraft owned by multiple companies hitched-a-ride atop the same Falcon 9 rocket. An entire Falcon 9 flight can cost up to $67 million. The Rideshare program provides cost-effective launches by allowing customers to share a ride atop previously-flown rockets for a base price of $275,000 USD per each payload that weighs 50-kilograms, with an additional mass at $5,500 per kilogram (kg). The Transporter-7 mission launched diverse payloads, including small satellites, CubeSats, MicroSats, hosted payloads and orbital transfer vehicles. A flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 11:48 p.m. PT from Space Launch Complex 4E at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California to deploy the Transporter-7 payloads to Sun-synchronous orbits (SSO).
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/oDuGFqoiDL— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 15, 2023
Rocket reusability is what enables SpaceX to provide cost-effective SmallSat Rideshare Program missions. This was the tenth launch of this particular Falcon 9 first-stage booster, identified as B1063-10. It previously launched NASA's Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth-observatory, NASA’s first planetary defense spacecraft called ‘DART’, and seven Starlink missions. Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, B1063-10 returned from space with SpaceX’s signature propulsive landing on Landing Zone-4, video below. To date, SpaceX has landed a total of 185 times and reused recovered boosters 157 times. The company aims to perform up to 100 Falcon 9 flights this year, which is nearly double what it launched in 2022. Today’s mission is already the 24th of 2023, SpaceX has been performing missions on average every 4.5 days since the year started.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on Landing Zone 4 pic.twitter.com/6vJQs6EXUa— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 15, 2023
The 51 Transporter-7 mission payloads were deployed in an organized sequence by Falcon 9’s upper-stage around an hour after liftoff; the deployment sequence took around 95-minutes. “A shorter second stage nozzle will be used when we don’t need as much performance to get the payload to its final destination,” shared SpaceX during the mission, “We'll still fly the full-sized MVac nozzles on missions that require a more significant amount of thrust or contain a heavier payload.”
The Transporter-7 mission carried interesting payloads, including: the Turkish government’s he Imece Earth-observation satellite; three satellites to detect gas emissions from space operated by Canadian company GHGSat; and AstroForge’s Brokkr-1 technology operated by the company which aims to mine asteroids someday. It also deployed Sateliot's first ‘GroundBreaker’ satellite for 5G Internet of Things (IoT) service, the Spain company aims to deploy over 200 small IoT satellites in the coming years. These are only a few of the 51 payloads that were deployed during the Transporter-7 mission.
A shorter second stage nozzle will be used when we don’t need as much performance to get the payload to its final destination— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 15, 2023
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All Featured Images Source: SpaceX
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
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.