Monday , September 26 2022

Spaceflight launch 64-satellite launcher launches tomorrow on platform Falcon 9 – TechCrunch


The Seattle launch coordinator, Spaceflight, is still preparing for the largest operation: Smallsat Express, which deploys 64 separate satellites from 34 different customers – all from a single Falcon 9. It's a pretty big effort, but the company believes that this type of "space bus" packed with jams is the best way to make satellite distribution cheap and easy – anyway, relatively speaking.

Spaceflight, launched in 2011, has under its belt a lot of launches from a variety of suppliers. But the demand was so intense that after taking a handful of slots on this rocket, they finally decided to make the next logical step: "Why not buy my own Falcon?"

That's what Curt Blake explained to me when I visited the modest office in Westlake, about a mile from the Seattle center. Unfortunately, he said, they made this investment just before another SpaceX the rocket exploded on the launch platform. This has shocked everyone but, ultimately, the cost-benefit equation for the wholesale distribution of commodities like this makes too much sense.

"There have been more shared releases before, but not on this scale," he said. Tens of millions, but not 64. The number was actually even higher initially, but some customers had to withdraw relatively late in the game. This is one of the drawbacks of a common joint launch: an inflexible time line. If 9 out of 10 passengers are ready to go, they can not stand and wait while the last one takes their ducks in line; the next favorable launch time could be months.

Spaceflight, like other launch co-ordinators, is doing a lot of work for their customers: helping to navigate through bureaucracy and plan things, of course – but perhaps most importantly to launch this staircase, works with everyone to create a useful volume which can launch satellite scores ranging from one box of bread to another.

That payload, Blake said, is known at SpaceX as "FrankenStack". A "stack" is the payload component of the rocket that actually does, and Spaceflight had to do it from scratch. They learned a lot, Blake remarked, and he had to invent a lot to freeze all those satellites there.

FrankenStack is more like a giant wedding cake with different hardware layers of satellite implementation. After all, these satellites are heading for different places, different orbits, different directions. You can not get there and hit the "release" button.

At the bottom or rather above the cone that is connected to the missile stage, there is MPC or the multi-cargo conveyor that has a variety of large articles on four shelves, including those to be launched along the FrankenStack path towards difference of perpendicularity. Above this is the hub and cubesat, also called the upper flight, because it will depart from the MPC and will go on its own.

If everything goes well, until the end of the hand there will be 64 small stars in the sky. Watch Live Streaming on SpaceX from 10am onwards.

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