SpaceX launches Transporter-2 Falcon 9 rideshare mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Transporter-2, the second dedicated rideshare mission for the company, into a polar orbit from Florida.
Liftoff took place at 3:31 p.m. EDT (19:31 UTC) June 30, 2021, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40. This was SpaceX’s third polar orbit from Florida’s Space Coast since August 2020. Before that, no rocket had launched in a southernly polar trajectory from Cape Canaveral since 1969.
This was the second attempt to get the Transporter-2 mission off the ground after a “fouled range” prompted a scrub for the June 29 attempt within just 30 seconds of the planned liftoff time. According to company CEO Elon Musk, an aircraft entered the “keep out zone.”
Additionally, weather constraints during the second attempt caused SpaceX to delay liftoff 35 minutes into the mission’s 58-minute window.
When it did launch, the Transporter-2 mission sent 88 spacecraft into a roughly 97-degree-inclined orbit, including three Starlink satellites.
According to SpaceX, while this mission doesn’t have as many individual satellites aboard compared to the previous Transporter-1 rideshare flight, Transporter-2 launched “more mass to orbit” for its customers than the previous rideshare.
First stage B1060.8, launching after a 61-day turnaround, performed a return to launch site landing, touching down on Landing Zone 1 approximately 8 minutes after liftoff. This was the first land landing at LZ-1, located some 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) south of the launch pad, since December 2020.
The payload fairings for this launch were also flight-proven. They were recovered about 375 miles (605 kilometers) downrange by the ship Hos Briarwood.
Falcon 9 flew a third stage of sorts on the Transporter-2 mission, a satellite dispenser called SHERPA-FX, which was designed by Spaceflight for deploying secondary payloads. This serves to ensure that communication between payloads cannot interfere with communication to the satellite after launch, which was a problem with the SSO-A mission where other satellite providers could not communicate with their satellites after launch and deployment.
SHERPA-FX previously flew on the Transporter-1 and SSO-A missions. Approximately 25 payloads were on SHERPA. These include Astrocast, LEMUR, HawkEye Cluster 3, Lynk-06, SpaceBee, PAINANI-2, and TagSat-2.
The first payload deployed was NASA’s PACE-1 spacecraft at roughly 58 minutes into the flight. The final deployment (three Starlink satellites) occurred 1 hour, 27 minutes after launch.
This was the 20th launch for SpaceX so far in 2021. For comparison, in all of 2020, the company launched 26 Falcon 9 rockets.
Video courtesy of SpaceX
Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.