SpaceX’s dedicated SmallSat rideshare program, Transporter, is designed to lower the cost of access to space for small satellite customers with rideshare flights to Earth orbit. These customers include a variety of space companies, developing nations, university programs, and new startups.
Transporter 7 Payloads:
Momentus Vigoride VR-6:
Alba Orbital Cluster 7:
Tomorrow-R1 (85kg, Tomorrow.io)
OMNI-LER1 (3U, Internet Think Tank)
GHOSt (2x microsat, Orbital Sidekick)
Brokkr-1 (6U, AstroForge)
Wyvern-1 (6U, AAC Clyde Space)
GHGSat-C6/C7/C8 (3x 15kg, GHGSat)
Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the reliable and safe transport of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.
Falcon 9 is the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket.
Total launches: 258
Total landings: 216
Total reflights: 191
The Falcon 9 has launched 42 humans into orbit since May 2020
Height: 70 m / 229.6 ft
Diameter: 3.7 m / 12 ft
Mass: 549,054 kg / 1,207,920 lb
Payload to LEO: 22,800 kg / 50,265 lb
Payload to GTO: 8,300 kg / 18,300 lb
Payload to Mars: 4,020 kg / 8,860 lb
On January 24, 2021, Falcon 9 launched the first ride-share mission to Sun Synchronous Orbit. It was delivering a record-setting 143 satellites to space. And while this was an important mission for SpaceX in itself, it was also the moment Falcon 9 overtook United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V for the total number of consecutive successful launches.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 had become America’s workhorse rocket, launching 31 times in 2021. It has already beaten that record this year, launching almost an average of once a week. While most of the launches deliver Starlink satellites to orbit, the company is still launching the most commercial payloads to orbit, too.
Falcon 9 is a medium-lift launch vehicle, with the capability to launch over 22.8 metric tonnes to low earth orbit. Unlike any other rocket, its first stage lands back on Earth after separating from its second stage. In part, this allows SpaceX to offer the cheapest option for most customers with payloads that need to reach orbit.
Under its ride-share program, a kilogram can be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit for a mere 1.1 million dollars, far cheaper than all other currently operating small satellite launch vehicles.
The reusability and fast booster turnaround times have made Falcon 9 the preferred choice for private companies and government agencies. This has allowed SpaceX to capture a huge portion of the launch market.
Image: Erik Kuna for Supercluster
Space Launch Complex 4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base is SpaceX’s west coast launch and landing facility. The launch pad is named SLC-4E (as it is the easternmost of the two areas).
Originally built in the early 1960s for Atlas-Agena rockets, SLC-4E served that rocket line until 1967, when it was taken offline and then rebuilt for the Titan IIID rockets.
It launched the Titan IIID from 1971 to 1988, after which it was reconfigured and used for the Titan IV between 1991 and 2005.
SpaceX leased SLC-4E in 2011 and spent two years rebuilding the pad for the Falcon 9 rocket.
The pad exclusively launched Falcon 9 polar missions from 2013 to 2019. However, in 2020, SpaceX began splitting those launches between Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral after the Air Force agreed to allow polar launches from Florida after a 51-year ban (because of the then-dangers of overflying Cuba during launch).
Despite new launch opportunities from Florida, SpaceX is not abandoning Vandenberg; many more launches are planned from this location.
Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) is SpaceX’s only west coast landing pad for the Falcon 9 first stage.
Activated in 2018, the landing pad is built on the former SLC-4W launch pad.
SLC-4W was built just 427 meters (1,400 feet) from SLC-4E for the Atlas-Agena rockets between 1963 and 1965. After that, it was rebuilt for the Titan IIIB rocket and used for that program from 1966 to 1987.
With the Titan IIIB’s retirement, the pad was reconfigured for the Titan 23G rocket between 1988 and 2003.
SpaceX leased SLC-4W in 2015 and renamed it Landing Zone 4 and created a landing pad for the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage.
The first Return To Launch Site landing of a Falcon 9 to Landing Zone 4 took place on October 7th, 2018.
Image: Pauline Acalin for Supercluster
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