SpaceX launches biggest USA 'rideshare' mission with 64 satellites

04 December, 2018, 02:52 | Author: Amos Gonzales
  • U.S. Air Force a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Spaceflight SSO-A Small Sat Express launches from Space Launch Complex-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base Calif. Monday Dec. 3 2018. The SpaceX rocket carrying 64 small

It will begin streaming on Monday, at 1:17 p.m. EST, which is 15 minutes before Falcon 9 will embark on its space journey.

Now, SpaceX and its workhorse vehicle is ready to set the record for most satellites launched by a single American rocket.

After separation, the rocket's first stage will attempt to land on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The launch has been postponed three times - once to accommodate additional pre-flight inspections, another time due to weather, and on Sunday to "conduct additional inspections of the second stage, according to SpaceX".

The first-stage booster used for the SSO-A mission flew twice in the past six months - first on May 11 for the Bangabandhu mission and again August 7 for Merah Putih.

Reusing rockets over and over is key to Elon Musk's vision of cheaper, more rapid launches to orbit. "Working toward a backup launch opportunity on December 3", SpaceX said on Twitter.

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"Falcon fairing halves missed the net, but touched down softly in the water", he said in a tweet. "Nothing wrong with a little swim".

The launch is the largest single rideshare mission from a US -based launch vehicle - carrying spacecraft for 34 organizations from 17 countries - but is not the first, nor the largest launch of smallsats on a single mission.

"It includes 15 microsats and 49 cubesats from both commercial and government entities, of which more than 25 are from worldwide organizations from 17 countries, including the United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, Brazil and India", according to Spaceflight Industries. The rocket is carrying 64 small satellites from a variety of customers, including clients from Brazil, Canada, South Korea and the UK. A group of middle school students from Florida sent an experimental astrobiology satellite. The entire deployment is expected to take six hours.

Additional payloads range from the U.S. Air Force's STPSat-5 spacecraft to Orbital Reflector, a cubesat carrying an inflatable sculpture from the Nevada Museum of Art and artist Trevor Paglen that will remain in orbit, visible from the ground, for several weeks.

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