Featured image credit: SpaceX
(Subject to change)
|June 30 2021 – 19:11 UTC | 15:11 EDT|
|Transporter-2, the second dedicated SpaceX rideshare mission|
|Spaceflight, Exolaunch, D-Orbit, SpaceX and others|
|Falcon 9 Block 5 B1060-8; 62 day turn around|
|Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA|
|~Unknown, no more than ~11,000 kg|
Where are the satellites going?
|~500 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit|
Are they attempting to recover the first stage?
Where will the first stage land?
|B1060-8 will land on Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1)|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|Yes, Hos Briarwood will attempt fairing recovery from the water ~605 km downrange|
Are the fairings new?
|The active and passive fairing halves have both previously supported 2 missions; 108 and 146 day turnaround time, respectively|
Both fairing halves are using the relocated vent location
|How’s the weather looking?||The weather is currently 70% go for launch (as of June 28, 12:30 UTC)|
This will be the:
|– 123rd Falcon 9 launch|
– 64th Falcon 9 flight with a flight proven booster
– 68th re-flight of a booster
– 4th 8th flight of a booster
– 19th re-flight of a booster in 2021
– 89th booster landing
– 32nd and 33rd reuse of a fairing half
– 20th launch for SpaceX in 2021
– 74th SpaceX launch from SLC-40
– 61st orbital launch attempt of 2021
Where to watch
What does this all mean?
SpaceX will be launching 88 satellites into a Sun-Synchronous orbit on their second dedicated rideshare mission, Transporter-2. The Falcon 9 Block 5 will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida, USA. Roughly 8 minutes after launch, the first stage will perform a return to launch site (RTLS) landing, and softly touch down on Landing Zone 1.
For the third time, Falcon 9 will be flying with a third stage on the Transporter-2 mission. The third “transfer” stage, the SHERPA-FX, is a satellite dispenser designed by Spaceflight to deploy secondary payloads. This ensures that other payloads cannot interfere with communications to the satellite after launch. This was a problem on the SSO-A mission, where many satellite providers could not communicate with their satellites after deployment, as they were too close together. While the SHERPA-FX does not have any on-board propulsion, it is the first of several models of SHERPA. Other versions have a monopropellent to boost payloads into different orbits.
The SHERPA-FX has previously flown on the SSO-A and Transporter-1 missions.
Falcon 9’s second stage will deploy SHERPA-FX like any other payload. After separation, the transfer stage will coast distancing itself from the Falcon 9 second stage and the deployed payloads, while four of them stay attached. During this, the stage will continue providing attitude control, telemetry, and communications to the satellites and the ground.
The primary purpose of SHEPRA on this mission will be to ensure that unlike on SSO-A, all the small sats are able to be communicated with after reaching orbit. On Transporter-2, there are just under 25 payloads riding on SHERPA. These payloads include Astrocast, LEMUR, HawkEye Cluster 3, Lynk-06, SpaceBee, PAINANI-2, and TagSat-2.
In addition to the SHERPA-FX transfer stage, the SHERPA-LTE1 will also fly on the Transporter-2 mission. The LTE1 serves a similar purpose to the FX; however, unlike the SHERPA-FX the stage has its own propulsion system. The stage is equipped with a Xenon ion thruster, which is used to bring the satellites to a different orbit. Transporter-2 will mark the first use of the SHERPA-LTE transfer stage, and will carry up to 14 satellites.
The SHERPA-LTE1 will be deployed from the second stage like any other payload. On this mission it will carry the Shasta, Faraday Phoenix, Tiger-2, ARTHUR-1, LEMUR, Polar Vigilance KSF1, and Tenzing satellites.
On the Transporter-2 mission, Exolaunch will also be launching roughly 30 satellites. These payloads include YAM-3, TUBIN, D-2/AtlaCom-1, XR-2, and ICEYE.
Furthermore, D-Orbit will launch the Neptuno, Spartan, QMR-KWT, W-Cube, Ghalib, NAPA 2 / RTAF-SAT 2, ADEO, LaserCub, Nebula, and Worldfloods payloads.
There are likely other payloads on this mission that have yet to be confirmed.
Nanoracks will launch 3 LEMUR satellites on Transporter-2. The LEMUR constellation is an Earth observation and traffic monitoring constellation built and operated by Spire. The satellites are able to use GPS signal occultation to measure pressure, humidity, and temperature. LEMUR is used to monitor trade, prevent piracy, track assets, assist in search and rescue operations, and help prevent illegal fishing.
The SpaceBee constellation is a satellite constellation with the goal of demonstrating two-way communication between cheap and low-data satellites. The satellites will help provide affordable internet in hard to reach parts of the world that do not yet have reliable access.
Astrocast’s IoT satellite
Astrocast will be launching 5 internet of things (IoT) nanosatellites into its constellation on the Transporter-2 mission. These satellites will increase the capacity of the constellation, which enables companies to track IoT products in remote regions of the globe.
Aerspacelab’s ARTHUR-1 satellite is a risk reduction satellite meant to demonstrate Aerospacelab’s ability to maneuver a high resolution optical payload in orbit. The ARTHUR-1 satellite will also provide flight heritage to the company and serve as a stepping stone for future payloads.
HawkEye’s 360’s Cluster 3 is an expansion on HawkEye’s 360 next-generation satellite constellation. The HawkEye constellation detects and locates radio signals and uses Fourier transformations to mathematically decompose a signal into its fundamental sinusoidal waves. This information is then used for maritime domain awareness, national security, and environmental protection.
TIGER 5G IoT
OQ Technology will be launching the TIGER-2 mission, which is their second mission aiming to provide global 5G internet of things connectivity. This consists of two payloads: a low frequency satellite to provide machine-to-machine services and a higher frequency radio link demonstration satellite.
What is Falcon 9 Block 5?
The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expendable second stage, and, when in payload configuration, a pair of reusable fairing halves.
The Falcon 9 first stage contains 9 Merlin 1D+ sea level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and be able to successfully place the payload into orbit.
The Merlin engines are ignited by TEA-TEB. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.
The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It contains a singular MVacD engine that produces 992 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.
For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it has a grey strip, which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of COPVs for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.
Falcon 9 Booster B1060
The booster supporting the Transporter-2 mission is B1060. B1060 has previously supported 7 missions; as this is the booster’s eighth flight, its designation changes to B1060-8.
|B1060’s missions||Launch Date (UTC)||Turn Around Time (Days)|
|GPS III SV03||June 30, 2020||N/A|
|Starlink V1.0 L11||September 3, 2020||65|
|Starlink V1.0 L14||October 24, 2020||51|
|Türksat-5A||January 8, 2021||76|
|Starlink V1.0 L18||February 4, 2021||27|
|Starlink V1.0 L22||March 24, 2021||48|
|Starlink V1.0 L24||April 29, 2021||36|
|Transporter-2||June 25, 2021||62|
Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 will conduct three burns. These burns will softly touch down the booster on SpaceX’s Landing Zone-1 (LZ-1).
Falcon 9 Fairings
The Falcon 9’s fairing consists of two dissimilar reusable halves. The first half (the half that faces away from the transport erector) is called the active half, and houses the pneumatics for the separation system. The other fairing half is called the passive half. As the name implies, this half plays a purely passive role in the fairing separation process, as it relies on the pneumatics from the active half.
Both fairing halves are equipped with cold gas thrusters and a parafoil which are used to softly touch down the fairing half in the ocean. SpaceX used to attempt to catch the fairing halves in nets on GO Ms. Tree and GO Ms. Chief. However, at the end of 2020 this program was canceled due to safety risks and a low success rate. On Transporter-2, SpaceX will attempt to recover both of the fairing halves from the water with their recovery vessel Hos Briarwood.
SpaceX is currently flying two slightly different versions of the Falcon 9 fairing. The new “upgraded” version has vents only at the top of each fairing half, by the gap between the halves, whereas the old version had vents placed spread equidistantly around the base of the fairing. Moving the vents decreases the chance of water getting into the fairing, making the chance of a successful scoop significantly higher.
Transporter-2 Full Mission Profile
– 00:38:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load.
– 00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway.
– 00:35:00 1st stage LOx (liquid oxygen) loading underway
– 00:16:00 2nd stage LOx loading underway
– 00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
– 00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
– 00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
– 00:00:00 Falcon 9 Liftoff
Transporter-2 Launch, Landing, and Satellite Deployment*
* All times are approximate