A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Transporter-2 mission, a cluster of small 88 satellites for commercial and U.S. government clients, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo
ORLANDO, Fla., June 30 (UPI) -- SpaceX successfully launched 88 small satellites from Florida on Wednesday after postponing the mission Tuesday because of an airplane in the launch area.
The Falcon 9 rocket on the Transporter-2 rideshare mission lifted off at 3:31 p.m. EDT from Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. SpaceX confirmed all satellites were deployed properly almost 90 minutes after liftoff.
The first stage of the rocket flew for the eighth time, and returned safely back to a landing zone at the Space Force station about nine minutes after launch.
Payloads on board include a range of spacecraft that provide communication, navigation, data for science experiments or Earth observation. Three dozen satellites were booked for the mission by Seattle-based Spaceflight, a company that helps arrange rideshare missions.
Spaceflight itself also is testing a new type of spacecraft, which the company says is the first-ever electric propulsion vehicle, the Sherpa-LTE1. The company's Sherpa spacecraft help other small satellites get to their intended orbit, like a space tugboat -- also known as orbital transfer vehicles.
The company is working on new types of propulsion for the space tugs to address the many types of activities happening in the space industry, Spaceflight's Phillip Bracken said in an email.
"The most unique element of Spaceflight's mission is the launch of two different types of Sherpa vehicles, including our first electric propulsion vehicle," Bracken, vice president of engineering, said. "Any experiences and data from this mission can be used for the next vehicle, and to improve our performance models."
Some customers may need more power over a long period of time, so they'd use chemical propulsion. Others need less mass over a shorter period, so electric might be better, he said.
A customer riding with Spaceflight is British space company In-Space Missions Ltd., which hopes to launch its first satellite, the Faraday Phoenix, after losing its first Faraday spacecraft during the failure of a Rocket Lab launch in July.
The U.S. Department of Defense has three spacecraft on the launch: Mandrake II, LINCS and POET. They are the first such satellites built and designed by the department's Space Development Agency and are aimed at gathering information on new laser technology to send data to and from spacecraft in orbit.
Support teams work around the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft shortly after it landed with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard in the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City, Fla., on Sunday. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo