San Francisco: Tech billionaire Elon Musk’s space company Spacex has launched 88 satellites, as part of the firm’s second in-house “ride-share” mission from Florida, bringing the total number of orbital objects this year to nearly 900, the media reported.
The company launched the satellites on Wednesday on a reused Falcon 9 rocket for the “Transporter-2” mission, including the first five for a new Pentagon agency and dozens more for various companies, countries, and schools, the Verge reported.
On Wednesday, June 30 at 3:31 p.m. EDT, Falcon 9 launched the Transporter-2, SpaceX’s second dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Programme mission, from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, the company said.
The mission also marked SpaceX’s second launch to a polar orbit from Florida. This marked the company’s 20th launch this year and the eighth flight for the rocket’s first stage booster. That booster returned to Earth about 10 minutes later at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1.
On board this launch were 85 commercial and government spacecraft (including CubeSats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) and three Starlink satellites.
The Transporter-1 mission, in January this year, set up a new record for most satellites — it sent up 143 satellites. The Transporter-2 mission, however, launched more mass to orbit overall,the company said.
The Transporter launches, first announced in 2019, are part of the company’s rideshare business model.
The Transporter-2 mission includes nearly 10 customers, some of whom are launch service providers who are themselves organizing customer payloads — like Spaceflight, which is launching 36 small satellites on behalf of 14 customers, as well as its electric propulsion vehicle dubbed Sherpa-LTE, the TechCrunch reported.
It also includes the first satellite launch for space intelligence company Umbra and Loft Orbital’s “rideshare” satellites, YAM-2 and YAM-3, each of which are equipped with five independent sensors for separate customers, it added.
Originally scheduled for June 29, the launch was halted after a rotary aircraft entered the flight zone. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in a tweet blasted the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations as “broken”.
“Unfortunately, launch is called off for today, as an aircraft entered the “keep out zone”, which is unreasonably gigantic,” Musk tweeted.
“There is simply no way that humanity can become a spacefaring civilization without major regulatory reform. The current regulatory system is broken,”he added.