Spaceflight Inc., a global launch services provider, will launch Sherpa-LTC orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) atop a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The Sherpa-LTC will hitch-a-ride aboard SpaceX’s upcoming Starlink mission scheduled for September 4 at 10:09 p.m. ET, that will deploy 51 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The rocket will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. SpaceX will Livestream the mission starting 15-minutes before liftoff via YouTube, video is linked at the end of this story.
The Sherpa-LTC OTV carries a Spaceflight Inc.'s customer payload, which is part of Boeing’s Varuna Technology Demonstration Mission (Varuna-TDM) that aims to test V-band communications for a future constellation of 147 non-geostationary broadband satellites. Varuna is integrated on Sherpa-LTC. The ride was booked by Astro Digital on behalf of Boeing, the companies collaborated to design and build the payload.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will drop off Sherpa-LTC at a 310-kilometer altitude above Earth. Then, the Sherpa-LTC will use its onboard high-thrust propulsion system to maneuver to its designated 1,000-kilometer circular orbit where it will be tested for 2 years. The 51 Starlink satellites will be deployed after Sherpa-LTC/Varuna is deployed to LEO. “Sherpa-LTC’s transportation capabilities coupled with the reliability and consistency of Starlink missions create an ideal solution for the customer’s unique mission needs,” said Curt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight. “Our OTV eliminates the barriers that make it more challenging for spacecraft to access uncommon orbits in LEO and beyond. We’re eager to continue to provide innovative, cost-effective, and dependable in-space transportation services for our customers and partners like Astro Digital.”
“Astro Digital has been proud to partner with Spaceflight’s Sherpa product line, providing command and control solutions for a wide range of OTVs,” said Jack Cohen, program manager of Astro Digital’s Makalu OTV bus platform.
“We enjoy collaborative and innovative missions, so we were eager to support this customer in developing the payload and finding a cost-effective launch option to a higher altitude,” said Chris Biddy, CEO and co-founder of Astro Digital. “To ensure mission success, we turned to Spaceflight’s Sherpa OTVs to deliver the customization needed. This approach to launch enabled us to launch our customer’s payload in a timely manner exactly where they want.”
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Featured Image Sources: Spaceflight Inc. / SpaceX