SpaceX blasts into new year as Falcon 9 deployed 114 payloads on the first mission of 2023. The Transporter-6 mission payloads are owned and operated by multiple companies and organizations that booked the flight under SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program. The program offers customers with a smaller budget the option of launching payload to orbit by sharing Falcon 9 rocket fairing space for a much lower cost than booking an entire ride to orbit which can cost around $62 million. According to SpaceX’s updated website, launching a payload that weighs 50 kg (kilograms) costs $275,000 USD with additional mass at $5,500 per kg.
SpaceX launched the sixth dedicated Smallsat Rideshare Program mission (Transporter-6) on Tuesday, January 3. A veteran Falcon 9 lifted off at 9:56 a.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. “Falcon 9 carried 114 spacecraft to orbit that were set to deploy across 82 deployments, 78 of which have been confirmed. Teams are continuing to review data for the remaining payloads, though it may take customers some time to provide additional information on the status of their payloads,” shared SpaceX after the launch.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/xH6ulPu0YM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 3, 2023
The previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster that performed the Transporter-6 mission is identified as B1060-15. This was the fifteenth launch and landing of this Falcon 9 stage booster, which previously supported launch of: the United States Space Force GPS III-3 satellite, the Republic of Turkey’s Turksat-5A satellite, SpaceX’s Transporter-2 mission, Intelsat’s G-33/G-34 mission, and 10 Starlink missions. Rocket reusability enables the company to launch frequent cost-effective missions. Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the booster was recovered for future reuse; It landed on Landing Zone-1 at the Space Force base in Cape Canaveral. SpaceX shared an amazing video of the booster’s touchdown, shown below. It marked SpaceX’s 161st landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 135th time it reuses a Falcon 9’s first-stage.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on Landing Zone 1 pic.twitter.com/j6243ROlgY— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 3, 2023
The 114 payloads were deployed in an organized sequence into Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) around half-an-hour after lift off. The payloads range from small spacecraft, satellites, CubeSats, and orbital transfer vehicles that carry other small payloads. The mission also delivered 12 SpaceBee internet-of-things satellites for SpaceX-owned Swarm Technologies, as well as a satellite for the U.S. Space Force’s Space System Command. Read more: SpaceX acquires Swarm Technologies for 'Internet-of-Things devices' & adds the service to Starlink website menu
The Transporter-6 mission customers include: Launcher, Momentous, ExoLaunch, Gama Alpha, SkyCraft, D-Orbit, Satellogic, Kleos, Umbra, Lynk, Planet Labs, among others. Planet Labs shared that the Transporter-6 mission deployed 36 SuperDove Earth-observation satellites which capture high-resolution photos from orbit. The SuperDove satellite constellation enables Planet’s customers to see geographical regions on Earth for a wide range of applications, including for national security purposes and analyzing the effects of climate change in particular regions. “These 36 SuperDoves will replenish our current fleet of approximately 200 satellites in orbit, working to scan the Earth every day to make change visible, accessible, and actionable,” said Planet representatives in a press release after the launch. “This data is incorporated into the workflows of over 800 customers globally and thousands of users in agriculture, sustainability, government, and more, to help power better decision making. From measuring crop yields to fighting illegal deforestation to supporting land restoration efforts, global users are finding great value in our monitoring capabilities.”
“It’s in Planet’s DNA to continually innovate in space to ensure our users are equipped with the best data. We do this by deploying the latest technology and sensors on each satellite we launch to increase the frequency, resolution, and quality of the data that powers our software and tools,” said Planet CEO, Will Marshall. “I’m incredibly proud of our team for delivering 36 more SuperDoves to orbit that will contribute to our unprecedented global monitoring mission. Thanks for the ride, SpaceX!”
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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.