May 25 at 2:25 pm E.T. from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
SpaceX is currently the leader in the orbital launch industry, part of that being because of their Rideshare program. Similar to Uber or other “rideshare” companies, SpaceX takes up numerous customer payloads in a single launch to make the costs cheaper overall for all involved. Their current price for 200kg to SSO (Sun Synchronous Orbit) is 1.1 million dollars with additional mass at 5.5k per kilogram. They also offer affordable rates to Mid-inclination LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and TLI as well. With their SSO schedule certainty of about every four months, customers also know how quick they can get their payloads above out sky.
The weather for today’s launch, provided by Space Launch Delta 45 was predicted at an 80% chance of acceptable conditions with low activity for upper level winds and landing zone recovery, all more than fair for the attempt which proved to hold true as Falcon 9 B1061 was able to get off the ground for the seventh time, and then perform a bullseye landing at LZ-1 just a few miles away.
Once the payloads reached the Sun Synchronous Orbit, there was about a ninety minute deployment period of all the payloads that were packed into the 5.2m fairing. The deployment sequence was determined by several variables such as customer needs, and satellite placement. Each payload has a specific volumetric constraint and interface with one of the adaptor rings. There are two of these payload adapter rings, one with a fifteen inch diameter, and one with a twenty-four inch diameter. The larger ring allows for more volume, or larger payload, and the smaller ring can support a payload mass up to one-thousand pounds. Several of these payloads include projects from Momentous, Satellogic, Nanoracks, Exolaunch, D-orbit and several others.
ODM-1 or Outpost Demonstration Mission 1 via Nanoracks aims to provide affordable commercial access to space in connection with Voyager which will launch on the Outpost Mars Demonstration 1 mission where the test is to gather data on metal cutting in space and the feasibility of reusing discarded space vehicles. With the extreme difficulty of simulating microgravity in vacuum on Earth, these experiments must be conducted in orbit. With a video camera mounted to a robotic arm, developed by Maxar Technologies a cutting wheel will be watched as it attempts to cut through three coupons of CRES 316 stainless steel. This steel is the same as used on the United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur rocket which will first launch later this year or early next. Once the experiment has taken place the team will downlink photo and video data to analyze the results of each of the three coupons. The results are expected to be similar to each other, but could still be different as there have been no space cutting experiments since the Apollo program.
SelfieSat-1 is a student satellite from Norway, the first of its kind and built entirely in house from off the shelf parts. Using a Raspberry Pi which serves as the payload computer for the satellite the 1.8kg, once deployed will extend a selfie stick where it will attempt to take an image of the LCD screen, the satellite, and Earth behind it. The LCD screen, the most critical component in the experiment is the first LCD screen to ever have been put in such harsh conditions of vacuum, microgravity, and unfiltered sunlight. Working with NASA the SelfieSat team is hoping to perfect the technology ahead of the Artemis program to create a space worthy LCD screen. The possibilities include LCD screens being used on spacesuits and other instruments with externally mounted LCD screens.
The satellite service provider Momentous will launch BRONCOSAT-1, a university designed satellite to test a new flight computer. Cal Poly Pomona constructed the 1.5U CubeSat which will host an NVIDIA Jetson nano GPU as its main flight computer. These smaller, cheaper computers may enable easier and more cost affective construction of satellites.
The Capella 9 satellite will be placed in orbit as part of an Earth observation system. Eventually made up of thirty satellites, the constellation will mainly provide data for urban areas to monitor ice and snow along with vegetative decay. The X band will not penetrate vegetation easily therefore making it easy to observe when vegetation is decreasing.
An Italian based company, D-orbit has also just launched their sixth satellite carrier vehicle on Transporter-5. Their ION satellite carrier weighs in at 220lbs and will deploy Cubesats from its spring loaded dispenser pockets. This carrier can hold combinations of 1U, 2U, 3U+, 6U+, 12U, and 12U+ Cubesats along with other payloads.
There are numerous other payloads which caught a ride to orbit this afternoon which provide a wide variety of services. These payloads include Vigoride VR-3, FOSSASAT-2#, Veery FS-1, Shared Sat 3, Planetum-1, Foresail-1, Spaceflight Sherpa-AC1, XONA Alpha, TROOP-3, GHGSat-C3,-C4,-C5, CHOSt-01, STAR VIBE, KUBeSat, VarieSat-1, PTD-3/Tyvak-0125, ICEYE US, Centauri 5, and CPOD A/B.