by Chris Tobias
When SpaceX sends the SSO-A SmallSat Express into the black from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday, Elon Musk’s private space company will achieve a number of milestones simultaneously.
The launch will be SpaceX’s 19th launch of 2018, and will break the company’s record for the most launches in a single year. It will also mark the first time that the same Falcon 9 first stage booster will have launched three times. (The booster will be recovered a third time as well, this time on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions in the Pacific.)
The payload will also be record breaking. Spaceflight’s SmallSat Express, which is comprised of 71 spacecraft (15 microsats and 56 cubesats) from 34 different organizations (both government and commercial) that will be “ridesharing” their way into a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit aboard the same Falcon 9, represents the largest single rideshare mission ever by a US-based launch vehicle. All in all, 18 countries will be involved in this mission, including the United States, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, Brazil, India and South Africa.
SSO-A’s Falcon 9 is scheduled to lift off into the California sky Monday, November 19 at 1:32pm EST. SpaceX’s live webcast of the mission will begin approximately 20 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel.
Peace, love and rockets…