On September 2nd, 2020 (September 3rd, 2020 UTC), the Vega rocket successfully lofted 26 SuperDoves, Flock 4v, on Arianespace’s VV16 SSMS-POC flight, along with several other small satellites. The first 14 SuperDoves were successfully deployed into an approximately 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit, and Planet’s mission operations team is already shepherding those satellites through the commissioning process.
The remaining 12 SuperDove satellites will be deployed into a similar orbit over the next several weeks from D-Orbit’s ION platform, at which point they will join the rest of Planet’s on-orbit fleet. The Flock constellation of Dove and SuperDove satellites provides high-revisit medium-resolution imagery in a variety of spectral bands at a global scale. D-Orbit’s ION will be undergoing its own commissioning process before the remaining SuperDove satellites are to be deployed, and all signs thus far are looking good for a successful completion of the mission.
The return to launch of the Vega was an especially exciting moment for the smallsat industry given that this was the Vega’s first flight after an unsuccessful launch of FalconEye1 in July of 2019, which was followed by a thorough accident investigation and several corrective actions put into place by Arianespace and Avio, the prime contractor for Vega’s construction. After a handful of subsequent delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and unfavorable weather conditions, the launcher finally lifted off and proved itself back in flight-shape.
Follow the rest of the deployment and commissioning activities on Planet’s Pulse blog and Planet’s Twitter, and if you haven’t already, sign up for an Explorer Trial to see the great imagery and insights that our satellites can offer.