German satellite gets top price with launch of new SpaceX rideshare – Spaceflight Now

The EnMAP aircraft is at its factory in Bremen, Germany. Found: OHB / H. von der Fecht

A $ 330 million German hyperspectral Earth-imaging satellite will orbit from Cape Canaveral with 39 small payloads aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 spacecraft set for blastoff Friday.

The German observation satellite – called the Environmental Mapping and Analysis Program, or EnMAP – sits on top of a cluster of microsatellites, CubeSats, and small “picosats” ready for launch at 12:24 p.m. EDT (1624 GMT) Friday.

The mission is the fourth rideshare series dedicated by SpaceX, called Transporter 4, that will bring a flotilla of rewards to business startups and foreign countries. The 40 fares on the Transporter 4 trip will cover aircraft of all types, as well as “non -fixed shipping fees and an orbital transfer car that will take planes to be taken at a later date. , “said SpaceX.

The EnMAP is the largest group, weighing in at about 2,160 pounds (980 kilograms) and the size of the vehicle, which is smaller than its counterparts on the Transporter 4.

The EnMAP project is being managed by DLR, the German central bank, which first approved the satellite for development in 2006. The release of EnMAP was delayed for ten years due to technical and technical problems. engineering, closely related to the satellite’s hard disk imaging.

The satellite monitors the Earth’s surface with a telephone and two spectrometers recorded to see how the sun can be seen from the earth, lakes, rivers, and oceans in 242 colors.

“EnMAP is a satellite available images of the Earth, “said Sebastian Fischer, missionary director at DLR.” But the image is always captured in three different colors: red, green and blue. What is unique about EnMAP is no. think only of these three colors, but the light is divided into very small wavelengths.

The new information can tell scientists, policy makers, industry, farmers, and foresters about the state of the environment, providing relevant information. measuring plant health and water pollution.

With EnMAP, “we have a different image for each wave range, and then we can analyze it,” says Fischer. “And we can see, for example, if a plant doesn’t have enough water, or if a plant doesn’t have enough nutrients.”

The EnMAP spacecraft and its hyperspectral sensor were built by the German aviation company OHB. First, the plan is to send EnMAP aboard a dedicated aircraft on a small rocket, such as India’s PSLV or the European Vega launcher, Fischer said.

But SpaceX’s rideshare program gave EnMAP a ride in space in real time.

“At a time when it wasn’t easy for the advertising market to prepare a quick start for your mission, we were able to find with SpaceX an advertising service that was very relevant to our project, and that was one of the main reasons for related, ”Fischer said.

None of the other rockets in the commercial rocket market have provided a jump that is suitable for the EnMAP platform.

“We want it to be released immediately before the project is postponed,” Fischer said in an interview with Spaceflight Now.

SpaceX announced its small satellite rideshare delivery service in 2019. It launched its first Transporter mission in Jan. 24, 2021, with a record 143 satellites on a single rocket. The Transporter 2 spacecraft on June 30, 2021, took 88 payloads into orbit, and Transporter 3 was released Jan. 13 and 105 steamers.

The show for Transporter 4 is under 40 spacecraft, but that’s because EnMAP went on a mission. The satellite is heavier than any of the satellites SpaceX flew on one of the first Transporter missions, and the Falcon 9 will give EnMAP an orbit 404 miles (650 kilometers) above the Earth. World, it’s higher than past rideshare releases.

The satellites fly on SpaceX’s Transporter 4 rideshare mission during encapsulation in the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing. The German EnMAP satellite is visible on the archive. Available: SpaceX

SpaceX plans to introduce four ridehsare aircraft dedicated to Falcon 9 rockets this year, doubling the amount of Transporter launches from about one every six months to one every three. and four months.

There is a great demand for rideshare advertising services. Some SpaceX customers said the price for a slot on a Mission Transporter was inconsistent with the advertising industry.

On its website, SpaceX said it would pay customers about $ 1.1 million to start with a fee of 440 pounds (200 kilograms) on a rideshare flight dedicated to sun-synchronous orbit. The cost is provided by reducing the cost from reusing the Falcon 9 brake system.

Earlier this month, SpaceX increased its rideshare advertising price by 10%, from $ 1 million to $ 1.1 million for a 440-pound deal, citing “high levels of inflation.” The company has raised its standard Falcon 9 advertising price from $ 62 million to $ 67 million for the same reason.

Fischer declined to disclose SpaceX’s initial cost for EnMAP, but said the cost included the mission’s total cost of about 300 million euros ($ 330 million). Five years of work in orbit. EnMAP’s fund is initially set at 90 million euros.

The EnMAP spacecraft arrived at Cape Canaveral from Germany in late February aboard a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft, landing in Florida a few days before the U.S. government banned Russian aircraft from US airspace after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Engineers confirmed the plane was on its trans-Atlantic voyage, then loaded the EnMAP with hydrazine fuel in mid-March.

“It’s very difficult to get EnMAP on a rideshare mission because it’s a huge satellite with a lot of things that we have to do at the start -up to monitor all the satellite’s operations,” Fischer said. “But I have to say that everything went smoothly. The whole announcement didn’t last a day.”

SpaceX included EnMAP and 39 of its partners in the Falcon 9 rocket’s pay -per -view fair last week, then combined the pay -per -view with the promoter’s test. Earth teams rolled the Falcon 9 from its hangar to pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, then launched a 229-foot (70-meter) rocket on Thursday evening.

An automated scorecard will monitor the loading of oil and liquid oxygen pumps into the rocket Friday, with scorecards set for an immediate start time at 12:24 pm EST.

But only 30% of the time in Cape Canaveral is allowed to leave on a Friday. The changes improve on Saturday, when there is a 50% chance of a good time to start.

After leaving Earth, the Falcon 9 will fly southeast over the Atlantic Ocean, then turn south to fly along the east coast of Florida, then over Cuba and the Caribbean will put its 40 pilots into polar orbit.

The first level of the rocket replaces its ninth big Merlin and separates it from the top 9 Falcon by about two and a half minutes to the mission. While the high -level fire is in orbit, the launcher will first fall into the air tail, using the flashes of the time engine and hypersonic grid fins to guide itself to the SpaceX drone. located in the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Miami and west of the Bahamas – about 330. miles (530 kilometers) from Cape Canaveral.

The reusable rocket, numbered B1061 in the SpaceX fleet, will land on the drone 10 and a half minutes after takeoff to complete its seventh flight in space.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in Class 40 at Cape Canaveral, ready to launch Transporter 4. Courtesy of: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Photography

The second -stage engineer will finish several times before the first landing on the drone ship, setting the stage for the launch of the 14 -minute EnMAP aircraft to the mission.

“EnMAP was the first satellite to be isolated because we wanted to ensure the limit of payloads when the other satellites were isolated,” Fischer said. “It’s very important for EnMAP, we’re the first one (to separate). So we’re going to be taken into our orbit at 650 kilometers, and then we’re going to be separate.

EnMAP is set to conclude a radio deal with German international companies through a tourist office in Svalbard, Norway, about an hour after the departure of the Falcon 9, according to Fischer.

After two weeks of monitoring and recovery, the EnMAP operator will be arrested and ordered before the satellite launches its mission in September.

EnMAP can collect spectra in both optical and infrared light beams, EnMAP can detect details of the earth invisible to the human eye, covering the horizon for earth -looking missionaries. , according to Walther Pelzer, head of DLR and a member of DLR’s implementation board.

“Then we can decide on the fingertips of different things, or the type of some skins, more real skin, hence the farming and the forests,” Fischer said.

The data can tell farmers where to grow and fertilize their crops, and see what types of plants are grown in farms around the world, in small boxes. about 100 feet (30 meters).

“This knowledge is important in order to be able to sustain food security in the future with global growth,” Pelzer said.

The mission will measure the growth of algae and pollution in the upland and coastal waters.

The EnMAP data will be released to scientists within a few days, free of charge. The missionary was not designed to monitor constantly, but he could take the data in the same country for as long as four days, using the aircraft’s ability to point 30 degrees in each direction. of his earthly way.

When EnMAP leaves the Falcon 9, the rocket will incur two additional charges: a spacecraft called LEO-1, whose public owner is unknown, and a GNOMES 3 radio occultation atmospheric monitoring satellite for a Colorado company called PlanetiQ.

Two more short engines by the high -altitude Falcon 9 will lower the rocket’s altitude by about 310 miles (500 kilometers), and correct the orbit of 97.9 degrees to 97.4 degrees to the equator. The rest of Transporter 4’s cargo will separate from the rocket in that orbit.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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