Continuing where it left off in 2022, SpaceX launched the new year’s first Falcon 9 on Tuesday, carrying 114 small satellites and other payloads into orbit as part of the company’s sixth mission to provide low-cost access to space for smaller payloads.
Using the first stage to make a record-breaking 15th flight, the Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Station at 9:56 a.m. EST, just four days after SpaceX launchedEven more flights are expected this year.
The first stage fired the rocket from the dense lower atmosphere, ascending south toward a polar orbit inclined at 97.5 degrees to the equator. It then fell and flew back to land on the SpaceX Pad at the Space Force Station.
Spectacular rocketcam video gave viewers of SpaceX’s webcast a bird’s-eye view of the return to the launch site, capturing clear shots of Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center
Meanwhile, the second stage fired twice in 53 minutes to reach its planned 325-mile orbit. A few minutes later, satellite deployment began, starting with KuwaitSat-1.
The mixed payload included half a dozen “space tugs” carrying payloads for later deployment, and many small satellites, including 36 Planet “SuperDove” cubes that complement the company’s 200 commercial satellites for Earth observation constellations.
The ten SuperPigeons launched on Tuesday as part of “flock 4Y” feature “artwork and quotes that celebrate the legacy of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry as part of our partnership with the Roddenberry Foundation’s Boldly Go campaign,” the company said in a statement.
“The five Super Pigeons participating in this mission will have laser-etched graphics on their side panels that are inspired by over 1,500 submissions for the Boldly Go campaign, which asked the world to share what gives them hope for the future of humanity.”
The next step for SpaceX: the launch of 40 OneWeb internet satellites from the same launch pad on Sunday, followed by the launch of the company’s fifth tri-core Falcon Heavy booster from platform 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Kennedy as part of a secret US Space Force mission. This flight is believed to take off on January 12.
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