Planet launches every three to six months to keep its constellation of Earth imaging satellites replenished and flying the latest and greatest technologies. Following on the heels of the successful launch of Flock 4p in November of 2019, Planet’s first launch of 2020 will be on Arianespace’s European-made Vega rocket, a first for the Doves. The 26 SuperDoves, Flock 4v, are scheduled for lift-off on March 23, 2020 from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.
These 26 Flock 4v SuperDoves will be split into two batches on the same launch: 14 of them will be housed inside and deployed from ISL’s QuadPack deployers and the remaining 12 will be deployed from D-Orbit’s InOrbit Now (ION) freeflying deployment platform.
Over 200 Dove satellites have successfully deployed from ISL’s trusty QuadPack system. This will be the first flight of D-Orbit’s ION system, and those satellites will be deployed over a handful of weeks. D-Orbit will also be verifying key technologies on their ION platform that will eventually enable future versions to act as a “space tug,” with the capability to perform orbit adjustments or accelerate phasing for the satellites it carries.
Much like the Falcon 9 SSO-A launch in 2018, this Vega launch is going to be a smallsat party. As Arianespace’s official mission name “Small Spacecraft Mission Service—Proof of Concept” suggests, this is the first “dedicated rideshare” on a Vega launch vehicle; rather than a primary satellite customer driving the requirements of the mission, this is a dedicated ride for a few dozen small satellites all looking to go to the same orbit.
We look forward to a successful launch and extend our thanks to our partners at Arianespace, ISISpace, D-Orbit, Spaceflight and SAB Aerospace for all their efforts in making this mission come together. Follow Planet on Twitter to receive the latest updates on our upcoming launches.