Falcon 9 to launch Transporter 1

Mission Overview:

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 1 mission, a rideshare flight to a sun-synchronous orbit with dozens of small microsatellites and nanosatellites for commercial and government customers.

  • Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9 B1058.5
  • Mission: Transporter 1 (Rideshare)
  • Date / Time: Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 1500-1540 UTC (1000-1040 EST)
  • Launch Site: SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA

Launch Vehicle:

The Falcon 9 B1058.5 rocket booster has been reused 4 other times prior to this mission. They are; DM-2 (Demo Mission 2), ANASIS II, Starlink L12 and CRS-21.

Space X Rideshare module Transporter 1
SpaceX rideshare module with 15″ and 24″ ports | illustration: SpaceX

Transporter 1 Payloads

Transporter 1 marks SpaceX’s first fully dedicated rideshare launch. This launch will contain 143 SmallSats from various companies/agencies. SpaceX will be including 10 Starlink satellites as well on this mission. Other customers include: NanoRacks, Exolaunch, Sherpa-FX, MAXAR and many others. Here are some below.

Rideshare 143 satellites illustration SpaceX Transporter 1
The SpaceX 2nd stage illustration of rideshare| Illustration: SpaceX

Nanoracks has booked deployment of eight small satellites as well as the Company’s first in-space Outpost-demonstration mission. Nanoracks, in collaboration with Maxar, will be sending a self-contained hosted payload platform that will demonstrate the robotic cutting of second stage representative tank material on-orbit. This test will be the first of its kind to demonstrate the future ability to convert spent upper stages in orbit into commercial habitats – a long-term goal of Nanoracks.

Charlie Satellite - Aurora Insight Transporter 1 SpaceX rideshare
Charlie Satellite by Aurora Insight | illustration: Aurora Insight

Aurora Insight’s second satellite-based RF sensor. The satellite, named Charlie, is the first of a two-part satellite mission. Aurora Insight partnered with NanoAvionics to build and integrate two nanosatellites, as well as provide launch and operation services. Both 6U nanosatellites are based on NanoAvionics’ standard M6P bus in a higher performance configuration, providing greater technical performance capabilities for Aurora’s radio frequency spectrum mission.

Launch Trajectory

Polar Launch Trajectory of Transporter 1 launch by SpaceX
Launch Trajectory of the Falcon 9 rocket booster and landing area for the Transporter 1 mission | screenshot from Flight Club

Launch Site

Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), previously Launch Complex 40 (LC-40) is a launch pad for rockets located at the north end of Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA.

The launch pad was used by the United States Air Force for 55 Titan III and Titan IV launches between 1965 and 2005. After 2007, the US Air Force leased the complex to SpaceX to launch the Falcon 9 rocket. As of November 2020, there have been 60 launches of the Falcon 9 from the complex. The site was heavily damaged following the September 2016 Amos-6 incident, due to a catastrophic failure during a static fire test. The complex was repaired and returned to operational status in December 2017 for the CRS-13 mission.

Bird eye view of SLC-40 on Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida, USA
Bird eye view of SLC-40 at NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA | image: Google Earth

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