No hesitation on Sunday, January 24, as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted 133 commercial and government payloads to space. A feat worthy of note, as this is the largest number of satellites to be launched, all seated firmly within the rocket’s fairing.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle attained supersonic speeds at 59 seconds after launch and, at approximately 07:58 into the launch, three of nine Merlin first stage engines ignited to return the the unit to the recovery vessel, Ms. Chief, awaiting the landing, positioned in the Atlantic Ocean.
This return was accomplished without any apparent anomalies at 07:22 minutes post-launch. Note the honeycomb appearing devices at the base of the first stage… those assist with the first stage’s navigation to the recovery vessel.
This launch was the fifth launch of 2021 by SpaceX and the 73rd recovery by the company of an orbital class rocket.
All imagery is courtesy of SpaceX’s live webcast of the launch via screen capture…
Update #1 info…
Due to surface electrical fields, today’s launch of the SpaceX Transporter-1 mission has been scrubbed. The 70 m tall Falcon 9 rocket is sound and no anomalies have been reported for any of the launch elements.
This first Smallsat Rideshare Mission for SpaceX has another launch opportunity on Sunday, January 24, with the launch window at 10:00 EST. The honeycomb looking devices that are shown in the below graphic help the first stage steer back to “Mischief,” the company’s recovery vessel positioned in the Atlantic Ocean.
Original launch information…
SpaceX is targeting Saturday, January 23, for launch of Transporter-1, SpaceX’s first dedicated SmallSat Rideshare Program mission from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida — the 42-minute launch window opens at 9:40 a.m. EST, or 14:40 UTC.
Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously supported launch of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission, the ANASIS-II mission, a Starlink mission, and launch of Dragon’s 21st cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.
Following stage separation, SpaceX will land Falcon 9’s first stage on the Ms. Chief droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
On board this launch are 133 commercial and government spacecraft (including cubesats, microsats, and orbital transfer vehicles) plus 10 Starlink satellites – the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission. The Starlink satellites aboard this mission will be the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit.
Watch this SpaceX launch starting about 15 minutes before liftoff at this direct link…