SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket spotted from space before and after epic 105 satellite launch (images)
SpaceX has some great before-and-after photos to mark the 10th launch of one of its Falcon 9 rockets, thanks to a happy customer.
A successful Falcon 9 delivered 105 satellites into orbit on Thursday (January 13), including 44 “SuperDove” cubesats for Planet, a San Francisco-based company that operates the world’s largest constellation of Earth observation satellites.
The mission, called Transporter-3, marked the 10th first-stage launch of this particular Falcon 9 – and its 10th landing as well. About nine minutes after taking off from Florida Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the booster managed a soft landing a few kilometers from the launch pad, in SpaceX’s landing zone 1.
Related: Photos of Earth from space by Planet’s satellites
And just for fun – video captured by Planet SkySat today of @SpaceX’s Falcon 9 first stage thruster is back on the ground after its 10th trip to space! pic.twitter.com/IWr1UQdLyzJanuary 14, 2022
Planet managed to capture space images of the Falcon 9 before and after the flight using SkySats, a spacecraft the size of a mini-fridge capable of resolving features as small as 20 inches (50 centimeters) at Earth’s surface. (SuperDoves have a resolution of about 10 feet or 3 meters per pixel.)
A SkySat photo shows the Transporter-3 Falcon 9 standing to attention at Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 on Wednesday, Jan. 12, a day before liftoff. And Thursday, Planet posted on Twitter a SkySat video of the Falcon 9’s first stage shortly after landing in Landing Zone 1.
Transporter-3 has brought the total number of Planet satellites launched over the years to more than 500, the company said in another tweet from Thursday.
Many of these spaceships have been smoothed out by SpaceX.
“We were thrilled to launch again with SpaceX, which has now orbited a total of 127 Planet satellites across eight launches,” said Will Marshall, co-founder and CEO of Planet. wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “This marks our first launch with SpaceX under our new multi-year, multi-launch rideshare agreement. signed in 2021.”
The 44 newly launched SuperDoves join an existing fleet of about 200 Planet satellites, Marshall added.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.