SpaceX’s 200th mission sees 114 satellites deployed 544 kilometers above Earth

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SpaceX kicked off 2023 with its 200th mission to date, which saw the company launch more than a hundred different payloads into space as part of the sixth transportation mission. The Transporter mission series is SpaceX’s use of its medium-lift rocket to target the small satellite market, as the larger rocket enables it to carry more payloads than competing companies’ smaller rockets. The Falcon 9 took off from Space Force Station Cape Canaveral in Florida, and it was another occasion when the rocket launched for the 14th time, approaching the reuse record of 16 flights set by another Falcon 9 booster late last year.

SpaceX is launching its sixth carrier mission as it maintains an iron grip on the small satellite market

Falcon 9 blasted straight on point at 9:56 a.m. ET today, touching down again just eight and a half minutes later. However, due to the nature of the mission, the second stage had to sail for a longer period, raising its elevation to the proper height and direction to enable the payload to be deployed.

After separating from the first stage, the second stage drifted for three-quarters of an hour before lighting its engine for the second time. About an hour after liftoff, the second stage’s Merlin vacuum engine kicked in again for two seconds to adjust its orbit and deploy the payload. It was also the last burn in the mission’s second stage, and the target general orbit is sun-synchronous orbit.

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According to SpaceX, they have up to three missions targeting this particular orbit each year. The same mission saw 114 payloads launched in 82 deployments. These payloads cover a variety of different satellites, such as those for monitoring weather and environmental changes, Internet of Things (IoT) satellites, emissions monitoring spacecraft, and more.

The first part of the deployment saw 33 deployments occurring at regular intervals. Live footage showed the satellites ditching the second stage like a clockwork mechanism as part of the “distributor” mechanism that SpaceX is rumored to be adopting for its Starship rocket. Presentations shared by the company identified a “Satellite Distributor,” a horizontal splitter on the Starship’s upper stage for quick and easy deployment of Starlink satellites.

About eight minutes into the first set of deployments, the final phase of deployments occurred approximately 544 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Of course, any space launch is incomplete without some great visuals, and this time, sunrise was filmed on Earth while the second stage was flying over Greenland and into North America.

Visual images showed the entire region shrouded in thick white clouds as part of a historic blizzard that disrupted life and caused record cold weather in the United States and Canada. The last satellite deployed an hour and a half after liftoff, and at that point SpaceX could only confirm 77 deployments. However, the company soon confirmed on its social media that all deployments were successful.

SpaceX’s next mission could be that of OneWeb, whose launches on Russia’s Soyuz rocket were canceled in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. The company set a new record in 2022 by completing 61 successful launches, and if the statements of its president, Mr. Elon Musk, bear fruit, then 2023 may be the first year in which SpaceX completes 100 launches.

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