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After several launch delays, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 on Monday successfully deployed 64 small satellites into orbit. The first stage of the rocket landed on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The company said this was the first Falcon 9 to be reused three times. The Spaceflight SSO-A SmallSat Express was SpaceX’s 19th mission of the year, already exceeding the 18 mission it flew last year.
The 64 smallsats came from 34 different organizations representing 17 countries. The industry is celebrating the successful launch. “This will be the first time in space for many next-generation smallsat companies,” said Steve Nixon, president of the SmallSat Alliance. “Affordable and timely launch has historically been a significant barrier to entry for the smallsat industry. The great news today is that there are literally dozens of commercial launch companies working hard to meet this increasing demand.”
One of the smallsat operators that had a lot riding on this launch is HawkEye 360. CEO John Serafini said the successful launch of the company’s first cluster of Pathfinder radio-frequency data tracking satellites is the “biggest moment in our company’s young history.” He said this is the first time a commercial company has used formation-flying satellites for RF detection.”