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SpaceX preparing for Transporter-3 Rideshare Mission, Launching on Thursday

One week after the first launch from the #SpaceCoast, SpaceX is ready to for its second launch of the year – this time carrying dozens of small satellites for a variety of rideshare customers.

Transporter-3 will be the third Falcon 9 launch dedicated to SpaceX’s Smallsat Rideshare Program, which offers what is likely the world’s most affordable ride to orbit for small satellite payloads

Transporter-3 will mark SpaceX’s first ‘land landing’ of a Falcon booster in more than six months and its first truly polar launch of 2022. Falcon 9 is scheduled to lift off no earlier than 10:25am EST on Thursday, January 13th.

This mission will also see a southern trajectory launch, with the Falcon 9 rocket flying south along Florida’s coast towards Cuba, where the rockets fairings will deploy and be caught shortly after launch by SpaceX’s support vessels in the Caribbean

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Three more Falcon 9s – including one NET January 24th – are scheduled to launch before the end of the month. Barring schedule delays, Transporter-3 could also be the first of up to four dedicated SpaceX rideshare launches this year.

Prospective customers buying directly through SpaceX can currently pay just $1 million to launch up to 200 kg (440 lb) to sun-synchronous low Earth orbit (LEO). While rideshare payloads lose out on the benefits of hands-on, white-glove customer service and a more direct, tailored orbit insertion offered by a dedicated launch, the small rockets that offer direct launch services for small satellites are extremely expensive. There are only two relatively affordable small rockets that are active today and have successfully launched at least a few times.

Launches of SpaceX’s Smallsat Rideshare Program have been successful. In just two Transporter launches, the company has delivered almost 220 small satellites to orbit for dozens of different customers – including startups, universities, space agencies, student groups, science teams, and more. Transporter-3 will be no different and could carry 80-90+ small satellites to orbit, including 44 SuperDove Earth observation spacecraft for Planet. That doesn’t include the possibility that SpaceX – as it has done on both prior Transporter missions – will include several Starlink satellites to take full advantage of Falcon 9’s performance.

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