Spaceflight´s SSO-A Smallsat Express mission marks a historic U.S industry first and the beginning of a new Lite era for KSAT
Artist's illustration of the SSO-A mission's free flyers separating from the upper stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: Spaceflight
With only a few days to go until the historic SSO-A SmallSat Express launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon-9, the involved LEOP teams at KSAT are working intensely, preparing to support the large number of smallsat customers on this mission, many of whom are launching for the first time. The SSO-A mission is the largest single rideshare mission from a US-based launch vehicle to date and represents Spaceflight´s integration of an entire Falcon-9. The mission is an extremely exciting mission as it is dedicated solely to smallsats, with 64 small spacecraft from 34 organizations and 17 countries, a momentous milestone for Spaceflight. It is also exciting for KSAT, as we are supporting most of the commercial payloads on this rideshare on the KSATLite network, a ground network optimized for small satellites and big constellations.
Having supported smallsat launches before, this is a significant multi-mission launch for KSATLite as we are supporting 12 separate commercial customers, many of who are launching for the first time.
The satellites will be supported by using a combination of nine KSATLite antennas located at three unique Polar Ground Stations; Svalbard at 78´North, Tromsø at 69´North and Troll at 72´South in Antarctica.
“This is a historic first and a significant validation for the KSATLite Network as a whole. Gone are the days of a single antenna supporting LEOP – we will be using at least nine KSATLite antennas across the network to support over a dozen newly-launched satellites. Half of our customers on this rideshare are launching for the first time, and the success of this mission is defining for the future of these companies. The fact that they have entrusted this in KSATs hands makes me very proud.” Says Kristian Jenssen, recently appointed Director of KSATLite.
Kristian Jenssen, Director of KSATLite, the new business unit at KSAT dedicated to Small Satellites (Photo: benediktloebell.com)
Given the various missions all supported on launch day, KSAT has several skilled engineering teams dedicated to supporting the different missions during this critical phase where the satellite is brought into orbit.
In many cases, KSAT is supporting both the launch vehicle, the primary payload, and several secondary payloads, but in this unique case the secondary payloads are the primary. The whole mission is dedicated to small satellites that will be brought to a sun- synchronous Low Earth Orbit (LEO) by two robotic free flyers.
Kristian Jenssen continues: “The operations during Launch and Early Operations Phase (LEOP) are among the most critical of a mission so the fact that we have a 100% track record on “BigSat” LEOP´s through so many years, having that routine and experience included in my team makes me confident to say that our smallsat operators are in good hands”
Spaceflight´s SSO-A Smallsat Express will launch aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base Monday November 19th at 18:32 UTC