Introducing the New OTV from Impulse Space: A Feature of SpaceX Transporter 9 Rideshare

SpaceX successfully launched the Transporter-9 rideshare mission from Vandenberg Space Force Base on November 11. The rocket, carrying a total of 90 spacecraft, deployed the payloads into a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 520 kilometers. Of the 89 deployment events, 85 were confirmed successful immediately, with two additional confirmations announced by satellite owners on social media. The booster used for this mission, B1071-12, was the same booster used for the previous Transporter flight. It successfully returned to land on LZ-4 at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

This mission marked the ninth dedicated rideshare mission organized by SpaceX. The Transporter flights offer rideshare opportunities to various destinations, with several flights scheduled per year. The payloads range in size from small picosatellites to larger satellites weighing a couple hundred kilograms. CubeSats of various sizes were launched, including the 16U size, which is becoming more common. One notable inclusion was a 4U size built by Spire.

The majority of the payloads were handled by launch integrators who purchased space on the payload stack and assembled multiple customers into that space. Some notable launch integrators for this flight included Exolaunch, Maverick Space, SEOPS, and Momentus. These integrators worked with satellite owners to ensure successful deployment either directly from the second stage or through separable deployers or space tugs.

Impulse Space, a company founded by former SpaceX head of propulsion Tom Mueller, debuted its new OTV called Mira on this mission. Mira is designed to optimize total impulse provided by the vehicle and uses Impulse Space’s Saiph thrusters for propulsion. The vehicle’s first mission is intended to demonstrate high delta-V capability while performing maneuvers such as plane changes and LTAN changes.

A wide variety of communications satellites were also included in the payload stack. Kepler Communication launched two pathfinder satellites for its upcoming optical communications relay network, while Jacobs launched two satellites for inter-satellite and space-to-ground communications. Other companies such as OQ Technologies, hiSky, and DJIBOUTI-1A also launched communication satellites for IoT and other purposes.

Additionally, there were numerous Earth observation satellites for optical imaging, synthetic aperture radar imaging, radio frequency signal detection, and geolocation. Planet launched 37 imaging satellites, while GHGSat increased the size of its constellation with three satellites for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. Other companies like Open Cosmos, AAC Clyde Space, and Nara Space also contributed Earth observation satellites with various payloads and capabilities.

Overall, the Transporter-9 rideshare mission demonstrated the continued success and rapid pace of SpaceX’s launch operations. With a diverse range of payloads and successful deployment events, this mission showcased the growing capabilities and versatility of SpaceX’s launch services. As SpaceX continues to launch at a rapid pace, future missions are expected to provide even more opportunities for satellite owners to reach their desired orbits.