On Tuesday, SpaceX successfully launched 85 satellites for external clients, as well as three Starlink satellites, into orbit, marking the company’s second dedicated rideshare mission launch. While the Transporter-2 mission will transport fewer things to space than the previous rideshare mission (the Transporter-1 set a new record by launching 143 satellites), it will also launch more mass into orbit.
The debut of the Transporter is part of the company’s ridesharing business plan. These missions, which were announced in 2019, share up the rocket’s payload capacity among numerous customers, resulting in lower costs for each. Many of the customers are smaller businesses that would otherwise be unable to afford the expenditures connected with getting into orbit. SpaceX still gets a full launch and enough money to keep going.
At 3:31 p.m. Eastern time, the Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It’ll be the 20th Falcon 9 launch in 2021, and the first this year with the first stage landing on land instead of a drone ship at sea. At 3:34 p.m. ET, the first stage booster separated and returned to Cape Canaveral, where it successfully landed eight minutes after liftoff.
Nearly ten clients are participating in the mission, some of whom are launch service companies that are also organising customer payloads, such as Spaceflight Inc., which is launching 36 tiny satellites on behalf of 14 customers, as well as its Sherpa-LTE electric propulsion vehicle. It also includes the launch of Umbra’s first satellite and Loft Orbital’s ‘rideshare’ satellites, YAM-2 and YAM-3, each of which is equipped with five independent sensors for different customers.
As this was SpaceX’s 20th launch this year (and 127th mission to date), it’s pretty safe to assume that the company will far surpass last year’s record of 26 launches.
This was the second attempt of the Transporter-2 launch, which was originally scheduled for June 29. That launch was halted at T-11 seconds after a rotary aircraft entered the flight zone. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called the regulatory system broken in response.