SpaceX Transporter-5 Rideshare Mission launches 59 spacecraft to orbit, including cremated remains of 47 people

SpaceX Transporter-5 Rideshare Mission launches 59 spacecraft to orbit, including cremated remains of 47 people

On May 25, SpaceX launched its fifth SmallSat Rideshare Program mission, Transporter-5. A total of 59 small spacecraft owned by multiple companies hitched-a-ride atop the same 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 $1.1 million per each payload that weighs 200-kilograms. The Transporter-5 mission launched a variety of payloads ranging from CubeSats to orbital transfer vehicles with small satellites. The mission carried a couple of interesting payloads, including an in-orbit metal cutting robot created by Nanorachs/Maxar Technologies and a Celestis satellite carrying the cremated remains of 47 people. 

Celestis is a spaceflight memorial service company that launches cremated remains inside a special telecommunications satellite designed to orbit Earth for a decade. "I’d like to say that there aren’t any other funerals or memorial services that have as much cheering and high fiving as we do when that rocket rocket lifts off," said Celestis founder Charles Chafer. Their out-of-this-world memorial packages start at about $5,000 USD. The family members of the 47 cremated individuals were in Florida to watch the launch.  The company provides families with GPS location data of the satellite orbiting Earth, so they can know when their loved one passes across the sky. 

The Transporter-5 mission lifted off on Wednesday at 2:35 p.m. ET from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket that performed this rideshare mission (B1061-8) has now launched 8 times; It previously launched SpaceX's NASA astronaut Crew-1 and Crew-2 missions, the SiriusXM SXM-8, it launched NASA CRS-23 cargo to the International Space Station, IXPE, one Starlink mission, and the previous Transporter-4 rideshare mission.  

The veteran Falcon 9 first-stage booster returned from orbit around 8-minutes after liftoff, it landed on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1). To date, SpaceX has landed rockets 122 times and reused 98 times. The company's ability to recover and reuse orbital-class rockets enables it to provide more affordable spaceflight options to its customers.  

The Transporter-5 payloads were deployed to orbit approximately 1-hour after liftoff. The 59 individual vehicles were deployed in an organized sequence. During the mission, Nanoracks and Maxar Technologies tested their metal cutting robot technology as soon as their payload reached microgravity. It is designed to cut rocket parts in orbit to give space debris a second life. The device is part of the Outpost Mars Demonstration 1 (OMD-1). "This mission is part of our Outpost Program, which is focused on transforming used launch vehicle upper stages into uncrewed, controllable platforms," said Nanoracks representatives. These platforms could then be used to host science experiments in orbit, among other uses. 

“Maxar’s innovative robotics engineering on Mars Demo-1 represents a critical step toward using new technology to reduce future space debris,” said Chris Johnson, Maxar’s Senior Vice President of Space. “Maxar is excited  to partner with Nanoracks on this demonstration, which will test new ways to keep space a safe place to operate and explore for future generations. We are committed to eliminating unnecessary debris while developing on-orbit servicing and manufacturing capabilities, technologies which will revolutionize the space industry.”

Some of the other payloads owned by multiple companies that were deployed by SpaceX Transporter-5 include: Vigoride VR-3, FOSSASAT-2E, Veery FS-1, Shared Sat 3,  Planetum-1, Foresail-1, Spaceflight Sherpa-AC1, XONA Alpha, TROOP-3, GHGSat-C3,-C4,-C5, GHOSt-01,-02, STAR VIBE, KUbeSat, VariSat-1, PTD-3/Tyvak-0125, ICEYE US, Centauri 5, and CPOD A/B.  

Featured Image Source: SpaceX Transporter-5 Launch 

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

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.

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