….June 30th 2021 from Cape Canaveral
On a partly cloudy afternoon between rain showers at 3:31 PM EDT or 19:31 UTC on June 30th 2021 from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Florida SpaceX with a Falcon 9 rocket carried 88 small satellites and cubesats into a successful polar orbit after having to scrub the launch on Tuesday June 29th due to an airplane flying into the “Keep Out Zone” just 11 seconds from launch per Elon Musk tweet.
This also marks the 17th landing for a Falcon 9 first stage booster at LZ-1 which is an 86 meter concrete circular landing pad at Cape Canaveral which use to be launch complex 13 in earlier days. The last LZ-1 landing was back on December 19th 2020. The previous 19 missions in 2021 all attempted to land on drone ships with only one not being successful. A double sonic boom was heard across the entire Space Coast as the booster was landing.
According to www.spacex.com/missions this is now the 127th total launch for SpaceX. The landing is the 89th booster landing and the 68th re-flight of a Falcon 9 first stage booster. The first stage booster is B-1060.8 (it’s 8th flight) and is a 58 day turn around from it’s last launch on April 29, 2021. This is also SpaceX 20th launch this year in 2021.
Transporter-2 is the second dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program and helps smaller companies, universities and governments have access to space for up to a million dollars per satellite up to 440 pounds at a much reduced price compared to the normal price of launch for just one customer.
The weather improved to 70% go for launch on Wednesday afternoon. The 88 satellites launched is less than the 143 satellites on Transporter-1 but SpaceX has confirmed but the combined mass of these 88 small satellites is greater than Transporter-1 mission.
This will be the third SpaceX launch to use a coast hugging polar orbit which will take the path of the rocket over the Florida Straits and Cuba before reaching space.
The next Transporter-3 launch is tentatively scheduled from Vandenberg California in December 2021.
Exolaunch, SpaceFlight out of Seattle and the Italian company D-Orbit all booked ports in the payload stacks and then divided that capacity among many small satellite customers. Exolaunch will launch 30 satellites including YAM-3, Tubin, D2/ATCACOM-1, XR-2 and ICEYE. D-Orbit will launch 10 payloads including Neptuno, Spartan, QMR-KWT, W-Cube, Ghalib, NAPA2/RTAF-Sat2, ADEO, Lasercub, Nebula and World Floods. Exolaunch is also using a CarboNIX shock-free separation system.
SpaceFlight secured 3 ports on this launch to support 36 spacecrafts comprised of 6 micro satellites, 29 cubesats and one hosted payload from 14 organizations across 7 countries including AerospaceLabs Arthur, Astrocast’s loT nano satellite, Hawkeye 360 Cluster 3, In Space Missions limited Faraday Pheonix, Kleos Space Polar Vigilance Mission Cluster 4 sats, Loft Orbital YAM-Z, Lynk Global Inc’s Shannon, Near Space Launch Inc’s TAGSAT-2, OQ Technology’s Tiger-2-5G loT, Orbit Fab’s Tanker-001 /Tenzing, Orbital Side Kick Inc’s Anrora, Spire Global Inc’s Lemur-2 and Swarm Technologies’s SpaceBees.
Another customer Phase Four Maxwell Plasma Electric Propulsion Engine is heading to space for the fourth time.
In addition to Sherpa-FX transfer stage the Sherpa-LTE1 will also fly for the first time and has a xenon ion thruster which will bring 14 different satellites into different orbits per the customers needs.
Kuwait’s first satellite is also on board the QMRKWT and the Space Development Agency (SDA) has their first satellite mission with Mandrake II a Laser Interconnect Networking Communication System (LINCS) and the Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET). Lasers are harder to jam in outer space and these test could be extremely important to the future security of space hardware in outer space.
The 20th SpaceX mission in 2021 is now in the books and looks to be very successful as planned. Congratulations to SpaceX and all of the customer who launched into space today.
Article and Photos by Scott Schilke for spacenews.lu and space-news.es