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SpaceX Now Accepts Bookings for Dedicated Small Satellite Launches

By | February 5, 2020

An example of a rideshare mission configuration. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX is now accepting bookings for rideshare launches for small satellites.  Customers can now book a mission online by selecting their desired orbit, earliest launch date, and payload mass. SpaceX bills the service as a low-cost offering with schedule certainty and contract flexibility. Launches start at $1 million for 200kg to Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

The company is also offering rides to mid-inclination Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), and Trans-Lunar Injection (TLI). Add-ons including a port adapter, separation system, fuel, and insurance are available at additional cost. SpaceX offers payload configurations of 15in or 24in ESPA class ports. 

The website said that SSO missions will occur approximately every four months, with frequent launches to mid-inclination. From searching available flights, it seems that the first dedicated rideshare flight to SSO is set for December, but spots are open on launches to LEO as early as July. 

SpaceX also advertises that if a payload is delayed, money down can go toward the cost of a new mission with a rebooking fee. The company has also released a detailed user’s guide with customer requirements. 

The company previously announced in August 2019 that it was expanding its launch services to directly address the needs of small satellite operators through regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions. In December 2018, SpaceX launched its first dedicated rideshare mission SSO-A: SmallSat Express. The mission, organized by SpaceFlight, filled an entire Falcon 9 rocket with small satellites — 64 spacecraft from 34 different organizations.

In Via Satellite’s February issue, Arun Kumar Sampathkumar, Aerospace & Defense industry manager for Frost & Sullivan, said that the launch industry is evolving to meet demand for dedicated small satellite launches. The firm estimates the next decade will see the launch of nearly 10,000 small satellites.

“There are over 30 such new players aiming to become operational in the coming years. Spaceport-based business models that can accommodate multiple such new launch service providers using smaller rockets for dedicated small satellite launch service will form the new segment within the launch industry,” Sampathkumar said.