SpaceX launches biggest US 'rideshare' mission with 64 satellites

SpaceX launches biggest US 'rideshare' mission with 64 satellites

The launch of Falcon 9 rocket in California, which is supposed to deliver cargo for the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission to low near-Earth orbit, was postponed from Sunday to Monday due to additional checks of the vehicle's second stage, the launch vehicle's developer SpaceX reported on Sunday, Sputnik reported.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 exclusively dedicated to small satellites launched December 3, at 1:34 p.m. But in all fairness, the private rocket company had some help; its sole customer for this mission, SpaceFlight Industries, purchased exclusive access to the Falcon 9-the first time SpaceFlight Industries has done such a thing, as CNN reports. It has often re-used the first stages of Falcon 9 rockets, but Monday's launch was the first time the same rocket was used a third time.

Following stage separation, the first stage of the rocket successfully landed on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean, SpaceX tweeted.

The mission from Vandenberg will be SpaceX's 19th launch of the year.

The mission was billed as the "largest dedicated rideshare mission on a USA launch vehicle".

SpaceX also tried again Monday to recover the rocket's fairing, the bulging cone at the top of the rocket that shields satellites during launch. By 11:32 am PST (02:32 pm EST), SpaceX had confirmed the successful deployment of "four microsats and the upper and lower free flyer with additional payloads for Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express". With Falcon 9 Block 5's May 2018 introduction, the latter segment has become more important than ever before, as the upgraded rockets are already routinely conducting launches with as few as three months between them, bringing SpaceX closer than ever before to realizing a long-term aspiration of operating a fleet of rapidly and (relatively) easily reusable orbital-class rockets. "Nothing wrong with a little swim".


The mission also served as the first time SpaceX launched the same rocket booster for the third time.

The payloads, which vary from technology demonstrations and imaging satellites to educational research endeavors, are from universities, startups and middle school from 17 countries, according to Spaceflight. Approximately ten minutes after leaving the launch pad, the second stage's engine was cut-off as the vehicle and its satellites reached the targeted orbit. The current record is held by an Indian rocket that launched 104 small satellites earlier this year.

The ISRO successfully launched another rocket on Thursday, deploying 31 satellites into space orbit.

This was the company's 18th launch of a previously flown first stage.

Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface. The agency is considering updating a set of 2004 rules, "seeking to keep pace with technological and market changes, and to incorporate improvements in debris mitigation practices", the FCC said.

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