April 1st at 12:24 PM Est from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
It may be April first, but there’s no joke here, surrounded by severe thunderstorms for the last several days SpaceX launched another rocket, this one carrying forty satellites on board. Transporter-4 is the first of six possible missions planned for April. Axiom-1 will follow just a few days from now, then Starlink 4-14 currently planned for the thirteenth. NROL-85 will launch a top secret payload from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California and the Crew-4 mission to send astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) is targeting April 19th. There’s also the possibility of the Nilesat 301 mission to end things off, which if all take place will be the most launches the company has ever made in a single month.
That’s a lot, but today we started with the fourth dedicated mission of SpaceX’s Rideshare program. As previous stated, there is a total of forty payloads packed snugly into the rocket’s 5.2 meter fairing. These payloads will deploy across the nearly ninety minute mission after they reach a Sun-Synchronous Orbit. One of the companies on today’s rideshare mission, Satellogic Inc., a leader in the sub-meter resolution satellite imagery collection also launched five satellites this afternoon. This is the first deployment includes one of their new Mark V model. A new generation of satellite to enhance the company’s constellation with improved cameras, radios, computers, and other systems. The remaining four are updated NewSats mark IV.
Omnipsace, the company is starting a new constellation of satellites. Today they launched two prototypes, and though they have yet to state the full amount of satellites which will complete their constellation, they have stated it will take roughly four years to complete. Once it is completed the satellites in combination with ground systems will provide 5G internet and other services using their hybrid system. These services will be used by mobile phone users, and the company stats that when the is out of range from the ground systems, it will automatically connect to the 5G satellite network.
SPACELUST has also launched their fifth mission of the company’s ION satellite carrier. Using ion propulsion to transfer its seven cube sats into their proper orbits. These craft include four satellites for their Kleo Patrol mission, which currently is made up of eight satellites. These sats will conduct intelligence and observational studies which can be used by government and commercial organizations. Each satellite also has the ability to detect and locate radio frequency emissions up to three-hundred meters. SPACELUST’s other three satellites which will deploy are PlantSat, SUCHAI 2 and SUCHAI 3, all developed at the SPEL (Space Exploration Laboratory).
Numerous other payloads flying today serve a wide range of mission purpose, including YAM-6/VanZyl-1, Alba Cluster 5, GNOMES-3, Albania 1, BDSat, Pixxl, and EnMAP.
Today’s flight also took another Southern trajectory, needed for the Sun-Synchronous orbits, and flying the mission was Falcon 9 B1061. Earning its -7 today as it landed roughly 532 kilometers downrange on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions. Flying its first mission, Crew-1, back in November of 2020 B1061 is an veteran of the SpaceX launching fleet. Of its now seven missions, only one has been for Starlink, a rarity for those boosters with higher numbers. After Crew-1 it wasn’t until Crew-2 that she flew again, then the SXM-8 mission followed by CRS-23, and finally the IXPE mission for NASA before it flew its first Starlink mission in February of this year.