MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — SpaceX plans to launch regular Falcon 9 rideshare missions starting in March and won’t delay launches for tardy customers, a company executive said Oct. 8.
Tom Ochinero, vice president of commercial sales at SpaceX, said that the launch provider learned the importance of setting firm departure dates for rideshare missions by seeing the challenges customer Spaceflight had coordinating the 64 satellites that ultimately flew on the SSO-A mission SpaceX launched in December.
The SSO-A mission, also known as SmallSat Express, was originally planned to launch in 2017 and at one point had more than 70 satellites manifested.
Spaceflight has described its SSO-A rideshare mission as a challenge to fill since customer readiness tends to fluctuate and the Falcon 9 — capable of carrying 22,800 kilograms to low Earth orbit — is a relatively big rocket to fill.
Ochinero, speaking at the Satellite Innovation 2019 conference here, said SpaceX won’t stop mission timelines to fill empty space or wait for late smallsat operators.
“We’re going to fly even if it’s not full,” Ochinero said. “We are just going to set it up so that the ride is a reliable thing that people can ...