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SpaceX kicks off 2023 with the launch of over a hundred satellites.

'Transporter 6' is the first launch of 2023, Falcon 9 B1060.15 launched from Cape Canaveral with one hundred and fourteen satellites.

Rocket took off from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral

SpaceX launched 114 payloads into space at 09:56 ET (14:55:55.990 UTC) today, Tuesday, January 3, 2023, as the Falcon 9 Block carrier rocket lifts off 5 v1.2 FT No. B1060. 15 in the Transporter-6 mission. The 568-ton rocket was launched from the SLC-40 Complex at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. After separation, the 'core' B1060 landed in Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1), on the ground, near to the launch site in the Cape Canaveral.

Landing of B1060-15 at LZ-1 photo Credit: SpaceX

The initial target orbit had a perigee of 229 km, circularized in two second-stage engine burns to 525 +/- 25 km, inclined at 97.5 +/- 0.1 degrees to the equator.

Recovery of the fairing shells was to take place approximately 600 km downrange of the launch site, in the ocean off the Bahamas, by the support vessel Bob. The second stage is to re-enter over the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, midway through its third orbit.

First stage descends for landing powered by its central Merlin 1D Plus engine. This 'core' stage previously launched GPS satellites III-3, Turksat 5A, Flight Transporter-2, Intelsat G-33/G-34 and ten Starlink launch.

Transporter 6 is a dedicated satellite-sharing mission in SpaceX's SmallSat Rideshare Program that offers small satellite operators regularly scheduled sharing missions to Sun-Synchronous Orbits, or SSO, for ESPA-class payloads for $275,000 per mission, including up to 50 kg of individual payload mass. There are at least 114 payloads on this flight, including cubesats, microsats, picosats and orbital transfer vehicles that will carry spacecraft for later release.

Payloads in the mission

The list of customers for this mission includes companies such as Spaceflight a provider of launch and mission management services that promise routine and cost-effective access to space; the ISL, the Launcher with an Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) to place small satellites into orbit via dedicated and shared launch; Momentus Inc. US commercial space company that provides transportation and other space infrastructure services, Orbit D and SpaceX itself.

Payloads (satellites, embedded equipment, exposed experiments, OTV's, ejectors, etc.) to be carried on a mission of this type must, at SpaceX's request, meet requirements such as:

Payloads must be cleaned in accordance with VCHS standards in accordance with the NASA standard SNC005D before integration.

Image of one of the second stage's two on-board cameras showing the mounting bracket and satellites mounted on individual ejectors and one of the ExoPod tandem dispensers, just after entry into initial orbit

Non-metallic materials used in the construction of the satellite, which will be exposed to vacuum, must not exceed a total mass loss of 1.0% and volatile condensable matter must be less than 0.1% when tested to ASTM E595. This includes avoiding the use of markers, pens, and ink pens to mark the payload. A complete list of non-metallic materials exposed to vacuum, including quantities (surface area or mass) must be submitted to SpaceX for analysis. Any excess will be evaluated and approved on a case-by-case basis.

Metallic Materials – Customer selection of metallic materials includes consideration of corrosion, product wear, shedding, and flaking in order to reduce particulate contamination. 'Exotic' metals are avoided unless they are adequately protected against galvanic corrosion.