Early next week, SpaceX plans to launch a Falcon 9 booster on its third mission for the first time. The launch will take the commercial launch provider one step closer to its goal of mass reusability with its upgraded Block 5 boosters.
Currently scheduled for Monday, November 19, the launch dubbed “SSO-A: SmallSat Express” will deploy more than 70 small satellites for a range of commercial customers.
The Block 5 booster assigned to the mission is B1046. It was last used to deploy the Indonesian comsat Merah Putih on August 7, 2018. The flight was the first reuse of a Block 5 Falcon 9 booster. Before that, the booster deployed Bangabandhu-1, the first Bangladeshi commercial satellite on May 11, 2018.
The “SSO-A: SmallSat Express” mission is the first dedicated rideshare for self-described “launch services and mission management provider”, Spaceflight.
“As our inaugural dedicated rideshare mission, SSO-A: SmallSat Express is a momentous milestone for Spaceflight,” said Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight in a press release published on the company’s website. “Launching more than 70 satellites from one launch vehicle is a challenging feat and our talented team has made many advances to make this historic launch a reality. As demand for affordable launch options continues to grow, dedicated rideshare missions will play an important role in providing frequent and reliable access to space.”
Payloads set to launch aboard “SSO-A: SmallSat Express” include 56 CubeSats and 15 microsats for governments, universities and commercial entities. Organisations involved in the launch hail from over 18 countries including the United States, Italy, South Africa, India, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Canda, Thailand and Italy.
“SSO-A: SmallSat Express” will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base. With the large volume of payloads set to be deployed, the launch is expected to be one of the most complex SpaceX has ever attempted.