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Third Dedicated Smallsat Launched by SpaceX

On Jan. 13, a SpaceX Falcon 9 Launched more than 100 smallsats into orbit, accelerating the company’s dedicated rideshare missions. At 10:25 a.m. Eastern, the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launched Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The upper stage entered orbit eight and a half minutes later and deployed its payloads into a 525-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit over the next half-hour after a second burn 55 minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 first stage landed in Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral, marking the first time a Falcon 9 rocket has landed on the ground since the Transporter-2 rideshare mission in June 2021. The booster was on its tenth flight, having Launched for the first time in May 2020 on NASA’s Demo-2 commercial crew mission. Before Transporter-3, it  the ANASIS-2 satellite, the CRS-21 cargo mission, Transporter-1, and five Starlink missions.

According to SpaceX, the Launched contained 105 satellites. Planet, an Earth observation firm, was the greatest single customer in terms of spacecraft flown, with 44 SuperDove spacecraft. Planet was one of several businesses who used the to restock or expand its constellations. On Transporter-3, Spire had four multifunctional Lemur satellites, while Kepler deployed three for its satellite communication array. Capella Space, Iceye, and Umbra, all synthetic aperture radar businesses, had spacecraft on the flight as well.

On Transporter-3, Unseenlabs, a French firm creating a satellite system for maritime domain awareness, Launched BRO-5, its fifth satellite. There were also newbies. OroraTech, a German startup, has the first in a series of cubesats outfitted with thermal infrared cameras to provide early wildfire alerts. The satellite was created in collaboration with Spire.

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