Dubbed the “SmallSat Express,” the upcoming mission, which is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:32 p.m. EST Monday, will put 71 small satellites for 35 different companies and organizations, ranging from 11 pounds to 660 pounds each, into sun synchronous orbits. © AFP 2018 / Gene BlevinsNew ‘Star Wars’ Program? SpaceX Open to Deploying Orbital Weapons for US Typically, small satellites like these have to hitch a ride on larger missions that have the extra room for them, but Spaceflight bought the space of this entire vehicle payload back in 2015 and has stacked up the manifest with every little probe it can find that needs to get into orbit. The Verge reported back in August that there are 15 microsatellites and 56 smaller standardized satellites called CubeSats. The vast majority are commercial in nature, with several coming from educational institutions and two being art exhibits. “Probably the biggest technical challenge is sequencing all of the spacecraft off the payload stack,” Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight’s launch services group, told The Verge. “When you sequence that launch, you have to do it in a well thought out and organized way, so you don’t end up having spacecraft coming back, contacting each other, and causing space debris. We spent a lot of time modeling that and tinkering with the sequencing to make sure it all comes off without recontact.”… Read full this story
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