SpaceX has completed the final critical test milestone of the mission’s flight-proven Falcon 9, filling the rocket with propellant and successfully static firing the booster on the evening of February 18th.
If all goes well, the Launch of PSN satellite Nusantara Satu (formerly PSN-6; translation: “One Archipelago” ) – carrying two copassenger spacecraft – could be an immensely significant moment for commercial spaceflight.
Thanks to the support of rideshare provider Spaceflight Industries, those two passengers will be sent to high-energy geostationary orbits long relegated to dedicated launches of extremely large satellites, typically weighing multiple tons.
In this case, that commercial entity is the Israeli company SpaceIL in support of the world’s first commercially-developed Moon lander, a ~600 kg (1300 lb) spacecraft known as Beresheet (Hebrew for “In the beginning” ).
Designed by SpaceIL and constructed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the craft has since been installed atop PSN-6 and encased in Falcon 9’s payload fairing along with one much smaller copassenger, an Air Force Research Laboratory-funded (AFRIL) microsat known as “S5”.
The latter spacecraft weighs roughly 60 kg (130 lb) and is an experiment designed to determine whether small satellites can be used in geostationary orbit (GEO), with S5 focusing on cataloging and tracking GEOsats.
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