Planet is gearing up to send seven satellites into orbit this November as part of SSO-A: SmallSat Express, a fully dedicated rideshare mission on the SpaceX Falcon 9, procured by Spaceflight Industries. Of the 70 spacecraft onboard, Planet will send up two SkySat satellites, three latest-generation Dove satellites (Flock 3s), and two university cubesat projects sponsored by Planet.
The two SkySat satellites – numbers 14 and 15 – are the primary spacecraft of the SSO-A mission. They will join the 13 operational SkySats in orbit, expanding the world’s largest fleet of high-resolution imaging satellites. The improved global coverage, particularly in the morning orbit, will help Planet increase access to high-resolution imagery for customers as well as task afternoon imaging more effectively. This is the first time SkySat satellites will fly on a Falcon 9.
The three Dove satellites on this launch will support Planet’s global monitoring mission and highlight our agile aerospace approach of rapid iteration of satellite technology. Planned upgrades to the Doves, such as improved camera and telescope systems, will be tested in flight and refined back on the ground in our new satellite manufacturing facility.
Planet is also sponsoring the launch of two university cubesat projects: the MinXSS-2 from the University of Colorado, Boulder Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and the RANGE from Georgia Tech. These projects were the finalists of the University CubeSat Partnership, a competition hosted by Terra Bella (before its acquisition by Planet in 2017).
We’re excited to participate in this record-breaking launch with Spaceflight Industries! Stay tuned for updates from the launch site at Vandenberg by following @planetlabs.