SpaceX’s Next Starlink Launch Will Boost Three Hitchhiking Satellites to Orbit

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Two of Planet’s SkySat satellites hitched a ride on this December 2018 launch of one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets (SpaceX).
Two of Planet’s SkySat satellites hitched a ride on this December 2018 launch of one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets (SpaceX).

June 12, 2020 | Originally published by The Verge on June 9, 2020

In the coming weeks, satellite operator Planet will hitch a ride on one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets, sending up three of its own small satellites along with 60 of SpaceX’s internet-beaming Starlink satellites. When the gaggle of satellites launch, Planet will be the first to tag along to space as part of SpaceX’s new small satellite ride-share program.

The three Planet satellites going up on this next launch will add to the company’s existing SkySat constellation in low Earth orbit. The constellation is currently made up of 15 spacecraft, each about the size of a washing machine, which generate high-resolution images of the Earth below. Planet plans to round out the fleet with six more satellites:  three going up on an upcoming Falcon 9 launch and three more set to fly on another Falcon 9 Starlink launch in July. The company initially announced its plan to launch with SpaceX in mid-May.

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