Next Launch:


United States of America
United States of America
Rocket Lab
Rocket Lab
Varda Space Industries
Varda Space Industries
Date: Monday, June 12, 2023
Time: 9:35 PM UTC (UTC +0)

This goes

to space


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 8 Payloads:

Exolaunch (Germany)

  • DROID.001 (32kg microsat, Turion Space)
  • (U, Endurosat, with Rogue hosted payload)
  • EIVE (6U, U. of Stuttgart, Germany)

D-Orbit ION (Italy)

  • Outpost Mission 0 (3U, Outpost Technologies)
  • SpeiSat (“Guardian of Hope”) (3U, Vatican/Italy)

Earth Observant Inc. demo Sat

Satellive Vu


Tomorrow-R2 (85kg,


GHOSt (2x microsat, Orbital Sidekick)

MuSat-1 (59kg, Muon Space)

XVI (12U, AFRL/Viasat)

Skykraft Block III (5 satellites, 300kg total)




This goes

to space

Orbiter SN3

Manufactured by Hawthorne-based Launcher, Orbiter is an orbital transfer vehicle and small satellite deployment platform compatible with SpaceX's Rideshare program and Launcher’s upcoming small launch vehicle.

Orbiter can perform any combination of maneuvers to modify orbit and precisely place individual satellites in their exact locations.

Orbiter’s first mission, SN1, launched on SpaceX Transporter-6.

Orbiter’s second mission, SN2, launched on SpaceX Transporter-7.

Orbiter has a payload capacity of up to 400 kg and integrates with every Cube and small satellite separation system. With a propulsive capability of 500 m/s delta-V, Orbiter expands the capability of major rideshare missions and more accurately places your spacecraft in its exact orbit.

Orbiter adapts to large launch vehicle ride-share missions and customizes the final satellite orbit. Orbiter is the third stage of the Launcher Light rocket, enabled to reach orbits beyond low-cost ride share.

The vehicle can perform any combination of maneuvers to modify the payload's orbit and precisely place individual satellites in their exact locations. The high-thrust chemical propulsion system ensures maneuvers are accomplished quickly.

SN3 Payloads

  • Otter Pup (microsat, Starfish Space)
  • MDQSAT-1C/1D (Innova Space, Argentina)
  • Pleiades-Squared (Bronco Space, Cal Poly Pomona)
  • Nightingale 1 (Cesium Astro, Ka-band comm system computer)
  • TRL11-SN3-Demo (TRL11, cubesat deployer)
  • Remora (Millenium Space Systems, GNC system)

Credit: Launcher

This goes

to space

Photon - Varda

The Rocket Lab-designed and built Photon spacecraft will provide power, communications, propulsion, and attitude control to Varda’s W-series 120kg capsule that will produce pharmaceutical products in microgravity and return them to Earth.

In addition to providing support during the in-space manufacturing phase of Varda’s mission, the Photon will place Varda’s hypersonic re-entry capsule (carrying finished pharmaceuticals on board) on a return trajectory to Earth.

Varda’s space-manufactured products are targeting small molecule therapeutics and over time larger molecules and biologics — all of which can have higher efficacy when produced in microgravity, while the re-entry capsule provides opportunities to advance hypersonic systems.

This first mission will focus on small molecule formulation to provide insight into retrieved microgravity-grown pharmaceutical crystals, particularly the antiretroviral Ritonavir, an active ingredient in the COVID medication Paxlovid also used in the treatment of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

The Photon spacecraft was developed, manufactured, and tested at Rocket Lab’s Spacecraft Production Facility in Long Beach, California. With the final assembly, integration, and test of the spacecraft complete, the fully integrated Varda spacecraft has been shipped to Vandenberg Space Force Base for launch on a commercial rideshare mission, Transporter-8.

This Photon spacecraft is the first of four ordered by Varda to support in-space pharmaceutical manufacturing. Leveraging Rocket Lab’s deep vertical integration, all Photon spacecraft incorporate Rocket Lab-designed and manufactured components and software including star trackers, propulsion, reaction wheels, solar panels, flight software, radios, composite structures and tanks, and separation systems.

“Opening access to space is about much more than launch for Rocket Lab. It’s about making it easier to put the ideas of tomorrow in orbit today, enabling innovation, rapid iteration, and new capabilities that will improve lives back on Earth. This is exactly what the team at Varda is doing by producing novel pharmaceuticals in orbit and we’re immensely proud to make that possible with our Photon spacecraft,” said Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck.

“Space Systems is a rapidly growing part of Rocket Lab’s business, and we’re delighted to deliver another spacecraft that leverages our vertical integration strategy for high-quality and cost-effective satellite solutions on rapid timelines.”

Caption courtesy of Businesswire and Rocket Lab. Click here to read the full release.

Varda Space Industries, founded in 2021 and headquartered in El Segundo California, is building products in space to make life better on Earth. They employ 60+ experts including engineers and operators from the likes of SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Sandia National Lab. Varda has completed Series A funding with Khosla Ventures, Lux Capital, Founders Fund, Caffeinated Capital, General Catalyst, and Capital.

Varda’s capsule is near orbital velocity when it enters the atmosphere hitting Mach 25+ before landing on Earth. This offers a real flight environment for vehicle thermal protective materials, avionics, and sensors.


- Recoverable, allowing for easy high-fidelity data,
material, and system recovery post-flight

- Interior and exterior volume for your test articles.

- Low-cost ride share, or dedicated flight

- Dual use from day one assuring continued
operations and cadence for years to come.

Caption courtesy of Varda Space Industries

On this


Falcon 9 (Block 5)

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

From this

launch site

SLC-4E - Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
June 12, 2023

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 eastern-most 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.

Photo: Pauline Acalin


lands here

Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) - Vandenberg Space Force Base, California
June 12, 2023

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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