For the fourth time in 2023, SpaceX has launched a small satellite ride-sharing mission into low Earth orbit with multiple payloads. The Transporter-9 mission lifted off at the opening of a 55-minute window at 10:49 a.m. PT (18:49 UTC) from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
SpaceX said the launch included 113 payloads, 90 of which were deployed directly from a Falcon 9 rocket. The other 23 satellites will be deployed from orbital transfer vehicles at a later date.
Spaceflight will now provide Live coverage of the Transporter-9 launch In the live broadcast of the launch pad.
Multiple payloads came from Earth observation company Planet Labs PBC. The San Francisco-based company sent up 36 additional SuperDove satellites, which add to a list of more than 500 satellites currently in orbit. It also launched a technology demonstration satellite called Pelican-1, which “will host the planet’s next generation of imaging sensors, which will be deployed as part of the Pelican and Tanager constellations.”
The mission comes at the end of a week in which SpaceX launched a constellation of Starlink satellites and a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. It also comes a day before the company is set to launch two more satellites on behalf of Luxembourg-based satellite company SES.
The Transporter-9 mission lifted off into clear blue skies from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E). The first stage booster, tail number B1071, returned to Vandenberg for landing at Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4).
This was the B1071’s twelfth mission after flying Transporter-8, two National Reconnaissance Office missions, NROL-87 and NROL-85, the German radar imaging satellite SARah-1, the French ocean research satellite SWOT, as well as six Starlink. Delivery trips.
Earth observation and technology demos
Just over 54 minutes into the mission, SpaceX began deploying rideshare payloads, starting with a set of 11 payloads provided by German company Exolaunch.
The first was one of three satellites from a Canadian company, GHGSat: GHGSat-C9 “Juba”. It is named, along with GHGSat-C10 “Vanguard” and GHGSat-11 “Elliot” after the children of company employees, and is designed to monitor emissions. The company claims that GHGSat-10 will become “the world’s first commercial CO2 monitoring payload.”
Also on board the flight was Djibouti-1A, a satellite designed to “transmit data from the meteorological station of the Djibouti Center for Studies and Research (CERD) to the mission control center located in Djibouti, and provide the necessary tools for tracking the weather situation.” Changes in water resources by providing real-time data at the country level,” according to Al-Ashar Space in Africa.
The last payload deployed, about an hour and a half into the mission, was FalconSAT-X, a satellite developed by the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Air Force describes the FalconSAT program as “an academic platform for a range of aviation industry and Department of Defense experiments.”
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