Transporter-3 | Falcon 9 Block 5

Lift Off Time
(Subject to change)
January 13, 2022 – 15:25:39 UTC | 10:25:39 EST
Mission Name
Transporter-3, the third SpaceX dedicated small satellite rideshare mission
Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)
SpaceX
Customer
(Who’s paying for this?)
Numerous
Rocket
Falcon 9 Block 5, booster B1058-10
Launch Location
Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA
Payload mass
Unknown
Where are the satellites going?
Sun-Synchronous Orbit
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
Yes
Where will the first stage land?
Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1)
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
The fairing halves will be recovered from the water ~665 km downrange by Bob or Doug.
Are these fairings new?
Yes
How’s the weather looking?
The weather is currently 70% GO for launch (as of January 12, 2022 13:30 UTC)
This will be the:
– 136th Falcon 9 launch
– 76th Falcon 9 flight with a flight proven booster
– 80th re-flight of a booster
– 2nd re-flight of a booster in 2022
– 102nd booster landing

28th consecutive landing (a record)
– 2nd launch for SpaceX in 2022
– 78th SpaceX launch from SLC-40
– 2nd orbital launch attempt of 202
2
Where to watch
Official livestream

What’s This All Mean?

SpaceX will launch their third dedicated small satellite rideshare mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, in Florida. The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket will loft 105 satellites into a Sun-Synchronous Orbit.

SuperDove

Being launched on Transporter-3 are 44 SuperDove satellites, which are part of Planet’s SkySat constellation. The SuperDove is an upgraded version of the Dove, which will increase the resolution offered by the constellation. Planet offers a 72 cm resolution, but after their satellites are upgraded, the constellation will be under 50 cm.

The SuperDoves satellites have an upgraded camera. The camera is more color accurate, producing a better and sharper image. This means they provide more accurate surface reflection values. The new satellites also feature additional bands. This will allow them to better monitor agriculture, leading to new machine learning applications.

another payload on Electron
The last generation Dove satellite (Credit: Next Big Future)

Capella Satellites

Capella Space, a company providing Earth data on demand, will be launching their next satellite on this mission. The 100 kg (220 lbs) satellite dubbed “Sequoia” will be apart of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) constellation.

Sequoia will aid in disaster relief, mapping areas for agriculture and infrastructure advancement, as well as security. It has the unique capability to detect sub 0.5 meter changes in the Earth’s surface.

Key Features:

  • Has the ability to deliver high-contrast, low noise, sub 0.5 meter imagery to the public
  • 3.5 meter mesh reflector and and a 400W solar array
  • Thermal systems can aid in taking longer images up to 4000 km long 
  • Large reaction wheels allow fast satellite movement for a larger range of imaging capabilities 
  • A very high downlink rate of 1.2 Gbps to allow faster image download
  • Real-time tasking abilities through Inmarsat
Artists render of the “Sequoia” satellite. (Credit: Capella Space)

Capella section by Alex Crouch.

Other Payloads

SpaceX is also launching a number of other payloads on this mission. This includes Kepler, Guardian, Exolaunch, Nanoracks, Satellogic, Spaceflight, and a large number of other payloads.

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.

First Stage

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 triethylaluminum and triethylborane (TEA-TEB), which instantaneously burst into flames when mixed in the presence of oxygen. 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.

Second Stage

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 composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.

falcon 9 block 5, launch
Falcon 9 Block 5 launching on the Starlink V1.0 L27 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Booster

The booster supporting Starlink Transporter-3 is B1058. As B1058 has previously supported nine flights, Transporter-3 will change its designation to B1058-10.

Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 will conduct 3 burns. These burns will softly touch down the booster on SpaceX’s landing zone LZ-1.

falcon 9 booster, landing, drone ship
Falcon 9 landing on Of Course I Still Love You after launching Bob and Doug (Credit: SpaceX)

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, however, at the end of 2020 this program was canceled due to safety risks and a low success rate. On Transporter-3, SpaceX will attempt to recover the fairing halves from the water with their recovery vessel Doug.

In 2021, SpaceX started flying a new version 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-3 COUNTDOWN

All times are approximate

HR/MIN/SECEVENT
00:38:00SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
00:35:00RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
00:35:001st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
00:16:002nd stage LOX loading underway
00:07:00Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
00:01:00Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
00:01:00Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
00:00:45SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
00:00:03Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00Falcon 9 liftoff

Transporter-3 LAUNCH, LANDING, AND DEPLOYMENT

All times are approximate

HR/MIN/SECEVENT
00:01:12Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:151st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:191st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:262nd stage engine starts
00:02:32Boostback burn begins
00:03:47Fairing deployment
00:06:361st stage entry burn begins
00:08:262nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:271st stage landing
00:55:222nd stage engine restarts
00:55:242nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
00:59:38UNICORN-2E deploys
00:59:51DELFI-PQ, EASAT-2, and HADES deploy
01:00:25UNICORN-2D, STALLA-2A, and GRIZU-263A deploy
01:02:10UNICORN-1 and UNICORN-2A deploy
01:02:49PION-BR1, MDQUBESAT-1, SATLLA-2B, and UNICORN-2TA1 deploy
01:02:55ETV-A1 deploys
01:03:04HYPSO-1 deploys
01:03:16Gossamer Piccolomini deploys
01:03:28DEWA-SAT 1 deploys
01:03:47NuX-1 deploys
01:04:15BRO-5 deploys
01:05:36Challenger and SANOSAT-1 deploy
01:05:48FOSSASAT-2E5 and FOSSASAT-2E6 deploy
01:06:01FOSSASAT-2E2, WISESAT-2, FOSSASAT-2E3, and PILOT-1 deploy
01:06:27FOSSASAT-2E1, WISESAT-1, FOSSASAT-2E4, and LAIKA deploy
01:06:32First SuperDove deploys
01:06:51First LEMUR-2 deploys
01:07:13KEPLER-17 deploys
01:07:19Second LEMUR-2 deploys
01:07:31Ororatech deploys
01:08:09Tevel-4 and Tevel-5 deploy
01:08:35Tevel-1, Tevel-2, and Tevel-3 deploy
01:10:27KEPLER-19 deploys
01:11:01MDASat-1a deploys
01:11:13IRIS-A deploys
01:11:25KEPLER-18 deploys
01:11:39KEPLER-16 deploys
01:12:03LEMUR-2-DJIRANG deploys
01:12:28LEMUR-2-MIRIWARI deploys
01:12:44MDASat-1b deploys
01:12:58MDASat-1c deploys
01:13:27Tevel-6, Tevel-7, and Tevel-8 deploy
01:21:07Last SuperDove deploys
01:21:30First ICEYE satellite deploys
01:22:08Second ICEYE satellite deploys
01:22:20Umbra-02 deploys
01:23:02Ukrainian Satellite Sich deploys
01:23:31Spaceflight customer satellite deploys
01:24:30ION SCV-004 Elysian Eleonora deploys
01:27:04Spaceflight customer satellite deploys
2 comments
  1. Surprisingly enough, there will be at least 8 satellites on this launch that were designed and built by high-school studens

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