Planet Signs Multi-Year, Multi-Launch Rideshare Agreement With SpaceX

Falcon 9 launches the Transporter-2 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

SAN FRANCISCO (Planet PR) — We’re thrilled to announce a multi-year, multi-launch agreement with SpaceX, solidifying them as our go-to-launch provider through the end of 2025. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is the world’s most reliable and frequently-flown rocket that offers low-cost rideshare services, making SpaceX a natural choice for us. The first planned launch under this agreement is Flock 4x, 44 SuperDoves on the Falcon 9 Transporter-3 SSO rideshare mission scheduled for launch December 2021.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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48 SuperDoves Join Planet’s Constellation To Deliver Global Daily Data

Falcon 9 launches Transporter-1 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Planet PR) — 48 SuperDoves, our Flock 4s, were successfully delivered to orbit today on SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission. This record-setting launch carried 143 satellites to orbit – the most spacecraft ever deployed on a single mission.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches D-Orbit ION Satellite Carrier with 20 Spacecraft Aboard

COMO, Italy (D-Orbit PR) — On January 24th, 2021, at 4:00 pm CET, we launched another ION Satellite Carrier atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida. On the same day, 1 hour 16 minutes and 28 seconds the vehicle was successfully deployed into a polar orbit.

The spacecraft, named ION SCV Laurentius, is an upgraded and enhanced version of the vehicle launched in the fall of 2020, which precisely deployed twelve satellites in orbit. 

​During its mission, named PULSE, the vehicle will deploy 20 satellites, among which eight SuperDoves from Earth imaging company Planet Labs, and perform the in-orbit demonstration of two optical payloads from EICAS and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) respectively, among other experiments on unique payloads

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SpaceX Launches Record 143 Satellites

Falcon 9 launches Transporter-1 rideshare mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX set a new world record on Sunday by launching 143 satellites into Earth orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Sunday morning polar orbit launch included 133 commercial and government spacecraft along with 10 satellites for SpaceX’s Starlink broadband communications constellation. The launch was conducted from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

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Rocket Lab Launches 10 Earth Imaging Satellites

Electron launches with 10 satellites on Oct. 29, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

MAHIA PENINSULA, New Zeland — Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket launched 10 small satellites into Earth orbit on Wednesday (Thursday local time) from the company’s Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand.

The “In Focus” rideshare mission orbited nine SuperDove Earth imaging satellites for Planet of San Francisco and a microsatellite with several telescopes aboard for Canon Electronics of Japan.

It was Rocket Lab’s Electron’s 15th launch overall and the fifth flight of the booster in 2020. The company has a record of 13 successes and two failures.

Planet’s nine SuperDove spacecraft were deployed into 500 km (311 mile) high sun synchronous orbits using Rocket Lab’s Maxwell satellite dispensers. They join Planet’s constellation of medium-resolution imaging satellites.

Canon Electronics’ CE-SAT-IIB is a technological demonstration satellite has a middle-sized telescope equipped with an ultra-high sensitivity camera capable of taking night images of the Earth. The spacecraft also has small-size telescopes suitable for CubeSat use.

Unlucky 13: Rocket Lab Electron Launch Fails

Electron’s second stage fires. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Rocket Lab’s 13th launch of its Electron booster was unlucky today, with a failure of the second stage sending seven small satellites to burn up in the atmosphere instead of entering orbit after launch from Mahia Peninsula in New Zealand.

“An issue was experienced today during Rocket Lab’s launch that caused the loss of the vehicle. We are deeply sorry to the customers on board Electron. The issue occurred late in the flight during the 2nd stage burn. More information will be provided as it becomes available,” the company tweeted.

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Next Electron Launch Set for July 3

Electron lifts off from the Mahia Peninsula on its 12th flight on June 13, 2020. (Credit; Rocket Lab webcast)

LONG BEACH, Calif., 15 June 2020 (Rocket Lab PR) –Satellite manufacturer and global leader in dedicated small satellite launch, Rocket Lab, has today announced its next Electron mission is scheduled to launch just three weeks after its most recent mission in a demonstration of the company’s rapid launch capability.

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