Launchers and Propulsion
Transporter-5 Dedicated Rideshare Mission of SpaceX
Fifty-nine small satellites and hosted experiments launched on 25 May 2022 at 2:35 p.m. EDT (18:35 GMT) from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The reusable Falcon booster returned to Florida’s Space Coast for landing in landing zone one about eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. 1)
Among the satellites that Transporter-5 deployed into sun-synchronous orbit, rideshare aggregator ExoLaunch accounted for 21 satellites, including satellites for ICEYE, Satellogic and Spire. Smallsat manufacturer Terran Orbital flew satellites for several customers, such as Fleet, GeoOptics and NASA.
Other companies that had satellites on Transporter-5 are HawkEye 360, which flew another cluster of three radio-frequency intelligence satellites; GHGSat, which launched three satellites to monitor greenhouse gas emissions; and Umbra, which launched a synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite.
Orbit: Sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 525 km and an inclination of ~97º.
• ION SCV-006 ION Satellite Carrier is a satellite platform developed, manufactured, and operated by Italian company D-Orbit. The platform features a customizable 64U satellite dispenser capable of hosting a combination of CubeSats that fits the volume. Throughout a mission, the ION Satellite Carrier can release the hosted satellites individually, changing orbital parameter between one deployment and the next. Each of the miniature CubeSats weighs a few kilograms.
• Sherpa-AC1 is a CubeSat deployer of Spaceflight Inc. The Sherpa-AC, developed by Spaceflight Inc., is a free flying satellite deployer featuring chemical propulsion.
- Xona Space Huginn mission (the Xona mission is described in a separate file on the eoPortal of ESA).
- TROOP-3 (Train-Rapid on Orbit Payload) of NearSpace Launch Inc. will provide 24/7 telemetry plus critical mission data while hosting payloads for experimental testing. As a hosted payload, TROOP will remain attached to the Sherpa OTV for the duration of the vehicle’s life in orbit, which will be around eight years. NearSpace Launch’s goal is to help organizations track and report the location of their spacecraft to fight orbit debris and is planning many more missions with Spaceflight to enable these capabilities for more organizations.
- The Agile Micro Sat (AMS) will demonstrate satellite agility to reliably maneuver into optimum orbits and operate at low altitude. AMS carries space camera and laser beacon earth remote sensing payloads (TBIRD) of NASA developed by MIT LL. The AMS spacecraft is developed by Blue Canyon Technologies using a 6U-XL bus configuration with symmetric double-deployed solar panels and XB1 Gen3 avionics for low-drag guidance and control. The spacecraft incorporates the NANO AR3 field effect electric propulsion thruster with thrust vector control developed by ENPULSION GmbH (TBIRD is described in a separate file on the eoPortal of ESA).
- CNCE (CubeSat Networked Communications Experiment) Block 2 is part of MDA’s Nanosat Testbed Initiative (NTI). It uses small, low-cost satellites to demonstrate networked radio communications between nanosatellites while in orbit. Transmitting data between interceptors, sensors and communication systems is critical to a missile defense architecture that must quickly identify, track and destroy incoming enemy missiles before they reach their targets.
• Vigoride-3 is a space tug of Momentus Space. The total payload capacity that it can support to LEO is 250 kg with a future upgrade that could support up to 750 kg. Vigoride is capable of changing orbital planes, inclination, and propelling spacecraft to up to 2,000 km.
• BlueWalker 3 is a communications technology demonstration of AST SpaceMobile.
• Capella 9 is an Earth observation satellite of Capella Space
• GHGSat-C3, -C4 and -C5, three nanosatellites (each 15 kg) of GHGSat Inc.,Montreal, built by SFL (Space Flight Laboratory) of Toronto with gas detection payloads provided by ABB. The three new GHGSat commercial high-resolution satellites will join the company’s current constellation already in orbit – GHGSat-D (Claire), GHGSat-C1 (Iris) and GHGSat-C2 (Hugo).
• Hawk-5A, -5b and -5C of HawkEye 360
• ICEYE x 5 SAR satellites of Finland via ExoLaunch. The launch also included the second and third satellites built, licensed and operated by ICEYE US.
• GHOSt-01, 02, two EO CubeSats of Orbital Sidekick.
• Lynk x 3 of Lynk Global. The goal of the Lynk Smallsat System is to provide two-way data communications to and from standard cellular/mobile devices in remote locations on the Earth.
• Mars Demo-1 of Nanoracks. Nanoracks will launch a self-contained hosted payload platform to demonstrate on-orbit debris-free robotic metal cutting. This demonstration opens the door to further Outpost development, including physical modification of upper stages.
• Satellogic-NuSat x 4 EO microsatellites.
• Skykraft Block II carrier of the Australian space Services company SkyKraft. A minisatellite (300 kg) deployer to carry numerous small satellites that will form the early phase of the company’s planned constellation of 210 satellites. The Skykraft constellation will provide space-based Air Traffic Management services, with operations due to commence in 2023.
• Umbra-03 and -04, X-band SAR microsatellites (65 kg) of Umbra Lab, Santa Barbara, CA. The mission is to test technologies and designs, validate performance, and progress into a fully operational architecture.
• Albania 2 of the government of Albania.
• BroncoSat-1 built by students at Cal Poly, Pomona, CA. A trailblazing 1.5U CubeSat technology demonstration mission and a truly historic endeavor as our university’s first space mission. The objective is to demonstrate the use of a dedicated and Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) platform for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in the New Space Industry.
• Centauri-5. The CENTAURI-5 spacecraft with a 6U CubeSat form factor, is part of a constellation commissioned by Fleet Space Technologies to deliver global connectivity solutions (IoT) specifically designed for the energy, utilities, and resource industries. Tyvak International, a Terran Orbital Corporation, designed and developed the spacecraft. Fleet Space is providing the payload that consists of the world’s first 3D printed all-metal patch antenna array combined with Digital Beamforming in S-band frequency. The spacecraft is based on a Trestles platform.c.
• CPOD A (Close Proximity Operations Demonstration) and CPOD B. These are NASA payloads flying on non-government commercial CubeSats. CPOD will validate the technologies that are needed to support rendezvous, proximity operations, docking, servicing, and formation flight by utilizing a pair of identical nano-satellites and leveraging the inherent relative low costs of their vehicle manufacture and launch capabilities. It will also validate use of a completely new set of low power miniature components and software approach.
• DISCO-1 (Danish Students CubeSat Program). The DISCO satellite will host a series of student experiments from across a consortium of four Danish universities and serve as a communication station for radio amateurs around the world. One of the DISCO team's goals is to learn to use S-band frequencies for communications with the 1U CubeSat (Amateur radio). This could allow subsequent DISCO satellites to send much more significant amounts of data down to Earth.
• Foressail-1, the first satellite from the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space. The Aalto University team was in charge of planning the mission and building the satellite. The 3U CubeSat will carry two unique scientific instruments developed by the Centre of Excellence: the PATE particle telescope, which will study the near-Earth radiation environment, and a plasma brake, which will bring the satellite out of orbit.
• Planetum, a 1U education CubeSat of Planetárium Praha, Czech Republic.
• Polar Observer Mission (KSF3) x 4 of Kleos Space.
• PTD-3 (Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator-3). PTD-3 is a NASA payload flying on a non-government commercial CubeSat. This demonstrator will benefit future missions by demonstrating the operation of new subsystem technologies in orbit. PTD-3 is carrying the TBIRD system to demonstrate the high-data-rate capabilities of laser communications from a CubeSat in LEO.
• SelfieSat, a 2U CubeSat of Orbit NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim). The objective of SelfieSat is to receive uploaded pictures from Earth, show them on a display on top of the satellite, and take a selfie with a camera attached to a deployable arm. The CubeSat will deploy from Vigoride, Momentus’ transport and service vehicle.
• SharedSat-2 and -3, two 6U XL technology demonstration nanosatellites. Hypernova has announced its Shared Sat Service partnership with EnduroSat. The South African firm, has signed on with EnduroSat to fly its first thruster mission on EnduroSat’s 6U CubeSat platform on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission.
• SOWA Shared In-Orbit Service. Following a cadence of previous missions (SatRevolution SW1FT and STORK), the SOWA spacecraft extends both mission capacity and mission capability with regards to innovative service provision in orbit. SatRevolution's SOWA mission consists of a 6U CubeSat with multispectral optical capabilities that is scheduled for launch in 2022 and is aimed at Earth Observation (EO) technology manufacturers and service providers.
• Spire Global satellites are manifested on the SpaceX Transporter-5 Mission through a multi-launch agreement between Spire and ExoLaunch. Spire announced that it will launch five satellites (Lemur-2) on the upcoming SpaceX Transporter-5 Mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Space Services will have satellites and hardware onboard the launch for: HANCOM inSPACE, initially a spin-off by Korea Aerospace Research Institute and now a part of HANCOM Group, will host an optical payload on a Spire 6U satellite. This will be the first commercial satellite mission for a private South Korean company.
• STAR (Small Telescope for Advanced Reconnaissance) VIBE (Vision Inspection Boom Experiment), a Polish-German satellite (6U CubeSat) self-diagnostic system developed by Scanway, located in Wroclaw Technology Park, Poland. Scanway's optical payload contains a high-resolution telescope and a system for the satellite's in-flight self-inspection and self-diagnosis. The CubeSat is prepared by German company German Orbital Systems (GOS), with which Scanway has already collaborated on the ScanSAT satellite. — STAR VIBE mission will allow checking how space conditions: UV radiation, vacuum, demanding temperature cycles, and microgravity influence: electronics allowing to acquisition data from optical sensors, their processing, and recording, mechanical constructions of optical systems, and designs of optical systems aimed at observation of Earth from the orbit, an inspection of changes and potential failures in satellites. The mission will also verify whether such factors affect the quality of the acquired images during on-orbit operations.
• STORK-6, a 3U CubeSat mission for earth observation and technology testing built by SatRelvolution S.A.
• VariSat-1A, -1B, -1C a technology demonstration mission. The overall goal of the VariSat-1A/B/C mission, operated by VariSat LLC, Texas, USA, is to experiment and gain flight heritage with a satellite designed to support HF marine data communications. Three 6U CubeSats, each of size 12 x 25.4 x 36.6 cm and with a mass of 11kg will be launched.
• Vision -1, a 3U CubeSat mission of Exo-Space, Los Angeles. The Vision-1 image processor executes novel machine vision algorithms to detect and classify objects and structures within the field of view of on-board imaging systems.
• WVSAT C, D, a 1U CubeSat mission of NearSpace Launch
• FOSSASAT-2E x 7, seven PocketQubes, these are IoT picosatellites of Fossa Systems, Spain.
• Veery-FS1 (Canary Hatchling).
The Transporter-5, a SpaceX rideshare mission, launched on May 25, 2022 at 18:35 UTC out of Cape Canaveral, SLC-40, Florida. The Spaceflight team are especially excited for their five launch customers onboard: Xona Space, NearSpace Launch, Missile Defense Agency, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory. 2)
Spaceflight is taking 5 spacecraft, including 2 hosted payloads onboard the Sherpa OTV (Orbital Transfer Vehicle), to a sun-synchronous orbit to an altitude of 525 km, on a Falcon 9 of SpaceX.
Moreover, this mission is the debut of Spaceflight's next variation of Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle, Sherpa-AC. This Sherpa augments their base (free-flier) Sherpa model with key capabilities including a flight computer, attitude knowledge & control, and an electrical power system. This makes it a suitable platform for servicing hosted payloads. It will be carrying the hosted payloads for Xona Space and NearSpace Launch.
In its fifth rideshare mission with SpaceX and sixteenth mission in total, Exolaunch, a global provider of launch, in-space logistics and deployment services, completed its most demanding integration with more than 1500 kg of payload mass across 20+ satellites for its international customers from 11 countries and three continents. Exolaunch's customer satellites weighing 100+ kg and CubeSats ranging up to 16U will fly on operated by the SpaceX Transporter-5 mission scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. 3)
1) Jeff Foust, ”SpaceX launches Transporter-5 dedicated smallsat rideshare mission,” SpaceNews, 26 May 2022, URL: https://spacenews.com/spacex-launches-transporter-5-dedicated-smallsat-rideshare-mission/
2) Jodi Sorensen, ”Who’s onboard Transporter 5?,” Spaceflight, 23 May 2022, URL: https://spaceflight.com/whos-onboard-transporter-5/
3) ”Exolaunch Preps for Biggest Launch Yet With SpaceX Transporter-5 Mission,” Exolaunch, 25 May 2022, URL: https://exolaunch.com/news-block-53.html
The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (firstname.lastname@example.org).