SpaceX says demand for “ride rides” on space missions remains high through 2025

One of SpaceX’s biggest revolutions in space launches is the so-called “carpool carrier” service. This type of mission has mainly helped countries without an adequate structure or even financial conditions for their own launches.

In May, during SpaceX’s Transporter-5 rideshare mission, the Falcon 9 rocket was loaded with 59 small satellites belonging to about half a dozen customers, including Finnish startup Iceye, which has made two radar remote sensing satellites ( SRR) for the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). Photo credit: SpaceX

In a presentation to Small Satellite ConferenceOn Tuesday (9), Jarrod McLachlan, director of rideshare sales at SpaceX, revealed that the company has launched more than 400 customer payloads on its series of hitchhiking missions and that “several hundred more” are planned. In the most recent of them, there were even two Brazilian Air Force (FAB) radar remote sensing satellites.

According to McLachlan, demand remains high, with assignments booked through 2025. “One of the questions we often get is, ‘How full are you?’ “, did he declare. “All cargo assignments are complete in 2023, and we are already quite complete in 2024. We have really seen strong market demand. »

SpaceX has flown five Transporter missions so far, with another scheduled for later this year. According to the website Space Newsthe company estimates an average of about three rideshare missions per year, all in synchronous solar orbits, plus occasional opportunities to hitchhike on Starlink launches and, in the future, geostationary transfer orbit missions and towards the Moon.

Although the near-term schedule is full, McLachlan said there should be opportunities for customers looking for last-minute openings. “We have a lot of traffic, a lot of customers coming and going,” he said. “Often we can replace customers. »

Elon Musk’s company recently updated its ridesharing user guide. “Based on what we’ve seen with mission assurance, we’ve simplified our testing approach,” McLachlan said, explaining that they now recommend certain tests and in some cases driving requirements have changed.

According to the company, Cubesat missions have also been simplified. “For fully containerized cubesats, we have significantly reduced testing requirements,” the sales manager said. “We focus more on random vibration, electromagnetic interference and pressure system testing. »

Those rideshare missions used the Falcon 9 rocket, but McLachlan revealed that SpaceX was already starting to think about rideshare missions involving another vehicle. “We’re working on carpool setup and small satellite deals for Starship,” he said, referring to the company’s super-rocket, which is set to make its orbital test flight later this year.

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