Who’s onboard Transporter 5?

Next up on the launch pad is Transporter 5, a SpaceX rideshare mission scheduled to launch in May out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. We’re especially excited for our five launch customers onboard: Xona Space, NearSpace Launch, Missile Defense Agency, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory. 

We’ll be taking 5 spacecraft, including 2 hosted payloads onboard our Sherpa OTV, to Sun Synchronous orbit, 525km, on a Falcon 9.

Also noteworthy, this mission is the debut of our next variation of Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle, Sherpa-AC. This Sherpa augments our base (free-flier) Sherpa model with key capabilities including a flight computer, attitude knowledge & control, and an electrical power system. This makes it an ideal platform for servicing hosted payloads. It’ll be carrying the hosted payloads for Xona Space and NearSpace Launch. 

“Transporter 5 has been a really exciting mission for our team. With a new OTV variation in Sherpa-AC and a combination of repeat and new customers – and even some that were re-manifested from other missions, this is a unique mission for Spaceflight. It shows both continued industry growth in smallsat innovation and Spaceflight’s position as a leader in rideshare mission management, doing whatever it takes to help our customers reach their goals. It’s truly been a great experience working with these payloads and customer teams, and learning how they’re contributing to a greater future for our industry.”

Sean Stoker, Spaceflight’s Mission Manager
The team readies the Sherpa-AC OTV for flight at Spaceflight’s integration facility.

Here’s more about the customer payloads on Spaceflight’s Transporter 5 mission:

Xona Space’s Huginn Mission

Xona is launching Huginn, the first of two missions demonstrating the capability of their Pulsar constellation. Pulsar’s revolutionary architecture uses small but powerful satellites in low Earth orbit, more than 20x closer to Earth than GPS, to deliver high-performance navigation and timing services. Pulsar is designed to meet the stringent demands for precision, security, and resilience that are required for modern users such as autonomous vehicles and machine control. Huginn’s mission is to validate the core technology for the Pulsar constellation by transmitting the first precision navigation signals from a LEO spacecraft as well as demonstrating advanced functionality such as on-orbit reprogrammability and modern signal security implementations. This mission marks a huge step towards realizing a new generation of navigation systems. 

NearSpace Launch Inc.’s TROOP-3: 

TROOP-3 (Train-Rapid on Orbit Payload) will provide 24/7 telemetry plus critical mission data while hosting payloads for experimental testing. As a hosted payload, TROOP will remain attached to the Sherpa OTV for the duration of the vehicle’s life in orbit, which will be around eight years. NearSpace Launch’s  goal is to help organizations track and report the location of their spacecraft to fight orbit debris and is planning many more missions with Spaceflight to enable these capabilities for more organizations.

MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Agile Micro Sat 

The Agile Micro Sat (AMS) will demonstrate satellite agility to reliably maneuver into optimum orbits and operate at low altitude. AMS carries space camera and laser beacon earth remote sensing payloads developed by MIT LL. The AMS spacecraft is developed by Blue Canyon Technologies using a 6U-XL bus configuration with symmetric double-deployed solar panels and XB1 Gen3 avionics for low-drag guidance and control.  The spacecraft incorporates the NANO AR3 field effect electric propulsion thruster with thrust vector control developed by ENPULSION GmbH.  

Missile Defense Agency’s CNCE Block 2 

The CNCE (CubeSat Networked Communications Experiment) Block 2 is part of MDA’s Nanosat Testbed Initiative (NTI). It uses small, low-cost satellites to demonstrate networked radio communications between nanosatellites while in orbit. Transmitting data between interceptors, sensors and communication systems is critical to a missile defense architecture that must quickly identify, track and destroy incoming enemy missiles before they reach their targets. 

Stay tuned for more mission updates on Twitter at @spaceflightinc.

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