Spaceflight gears up for satellite extravaganza

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
A twice-flown SpaceX Falcon booster is readied for its third mission, set for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Scorch marks make the booster look “sooty.” (SpaceX Photo via Twitter)

Seattle-based Spaceflight Industries is closing in on what’s shaping up as a grand convergence in commercial space.

Spaceflight, which handles launch logistics for small satellites, is nearly ready for its most ambitious mission yet: the “dedicated rideshare” launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will deliver 64 satellites to a pole-to-pole, sun-synchronous orbit.

The SSO-A mission, also known as the SmallSat Express, is due to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Dec. 3, with SpaceX providing a webcast. The launch has been postponed several times, most recently on Dec. 1, due to the need for additional inspections and concerns about high-altitude winds at the launch site.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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