U.S. Dept. of Defense
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SpaceX Postpones Transporter 2 Launch

June 29, 2021
The launch of the Transporter 2 Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL has been delayed. It will be the first commercial rocket to launch military satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Development Agency.

The next launch of a Falcon 9 rocket (see the figure), the Transporter 2, which had been scheduled for June 25 with a mix of commercial and military satellites, has been postponed according to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), which is in the process of planning a new launch date. More time is needed for pre-launch performance and maintenance checks. The rocket had been scheduled to fly a commercial ride-share mission from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, FL with 88 small satellites, including military satellites.

The earlier Transporter 1 ride-share mission in January 2021 carried 143 small satellites to sun-synchronous polar orbits. The Transporter 2 mission will mark SpaceX’s 20th Falcon 9 launch of the year. It will be the first commercial rocket to place military satellites into orbit, carrying five military satellites for the U.S. Space Development Agency (SDA), which is responsible to developing the U.S. space-based National Defense Space Architecture. One of the satellites will carry the SDA’s Prototype On-orbit Experimental Testbed (POET) battle-management experiment into orbit.

As with the Transporter 1, the Transporter 2 will also fly a southerly polar launch trajectory. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will return to Earth shortly after liftoff, with the upper stage traveling in orbit and deploying its payload of many small satellites into orbit. To create its space-based defense system, the SDA plans to launch hundreds of satellites every two years, to provide beyond line-of-sight (LOS) targeting for ground and maritime time-sensitive targets as well as enemy missiles already in flight. The satellites will communicate with each other, making it possible to detect rapidly moving targets and calculate a response for an appropriate weapons system so the target can be destroyed.

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