Today, January 3rd, at 9:56 EST (14:56 UTC), SpaceX successfully launched its sixth dedicated small satellite rideshare mission from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Transporter-6 mission, the first of the year for SpaceX, deployed 114 payloads from several customers like D-Orbit, ISILaunch, and Launcher.
The payloads were carried inside a Falcon 9 fairings, and due to their high number, the mission was characterized by more than 80 single different Spacecraft Separation Events, a record in a single SpaceX mission.
The Transporter-6 mission is part of the Smallsat Rideshare Program, a specially designed series of missions for small companies and startups. In order to minimize the overall costs, the customers share the inside of the 13m long Falcon 9 fairings. This operation allows the reaching of an affordable price of less than $5,5k for every kg of payload.
The Falcon 9 inserted the payloads toward a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at 550 km altitude. After the liftoff, the Falcon 9 first stage landed at Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1), at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Payloads deployed belong to various customers, in particular:
- D-Orbit: aboard its ION satellites carrier, the company deployed five 3U CubeSats for two different missions. The first four satellites will join Astrocast’s constellation for the Internet of Things. This is the first of multiple launches, from which D-Orbit will deploy a total of 20 satellites. The latest CubeSat belonged to the company ACC Clyde Space and in the near future, it will deliver Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to ORBCOMM.
- ISILaunch: the company deployed 4 CubeSats (KSF 3A-3D) of Kleos Space, a Luxembourg-based company. The Cubesats will be used for an Earth surveillance scouting mission.
- Momentus: the space tug Vigoride-5 deployed satellites for the California Institute of Technology and for Qosmosys / NuSpace for a total mass of 363 kg.
- Launcher Space: the first mission of the newest “Orbiter” carried satellites for many companies (Skyline Celestial, Innova Space, Bronco Space, and others). Orbiter is a satellite carrier developed by Launcher Space. It has a payload capacity of up to 400 kg and integrates with every Cube and small satellite separation system.
The success of a mission depends most on the reliability of the launcher. In this case, a Falcon 9 Block 5 carried the payloads from Space Launch Complex 40 to SSO orbit.
This was not the first time this rocket Booster was launched, because it had already completed 14 missions, including the Transporter-2, the Intelsat G-33/G-34, and 10 Starlink missions.
After the liftoff and the separation, the first stage landed on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station ~8 minutes after launch. The fairings have hopefully been recovered at approximately 604 km downrange on recovery ship Bob.