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SpaceX launches 53 satellites on Transporter-10 rideshare flight, nails rocket landing (video)

SpaceX launched a big batch of satellites for a variety of private customers today.

The company’s Transporter-10 mission lifted off right on time at 5:05 p.m. ET (2205 GMT) on Monday (March 4) from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Today’s launch will place 53 payloads into various orbits including True Anomaly’s Jackal spacecraft, a wide range of cubesats and nanosats, and the Aires satellite built by spacecraft-manufacturer Apex which will carry multiple payloads itself. If all goes well, all 53 satellites should be deployed from SpaceX’s upper stage about 2 hours after liftoff.

Related: SpaceX launches 90 payloads into orbit on ‘rideshare’ mission

SpaceX’s Transporter-10 mission lifts off at 5:05 p.m. ET (2205 GMT) on Monday (March 4) from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Today’s launch marked SpaceX’s 20th Falcon 9 launch of 2024. The company has said it plans to launch 144 times this year.

Some 7 minutes and 40 seconds after liftoff, SpaceX landed its first stage booster at Landing Zone 4 (LZ-4) at Vandenberg as planned today in the company’s 280th successful booster landing overall and 205th consecutive landing of an orbital-class rocket.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage booster lands at Vandenberg Space Force Base on March 4, 2024 after launching the Transporter-10 mission. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Transporter-10 is what is known as a rideshare mission, meaning carried multiple smaller payloads for a large number of customers. These launches offer a convenient and more affordable way for private companies to place satellites into orbit without the needing to wait and “tag along” on the launch of a larger spacecraft. The mission will be SpaceX’s tenth rideshare mission to date.

Various payloads of the Transporter-10 rideshare mission being encapsulated into the Falcon 9 payload fairing. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Due to the large number of payloads, today’s launch will feature multiple deployment events from different orbits. The first deployment is expected to occur around 53 minutes into the flight, shortly after the rocket’s second stage Merlin vacuum engine cuts off.

The mission will be the fifth flight of SpaceX’s B1081 Falcon 9 booster. The first stage booster has previously launched the international Crew-7 astronaut mission, the CRS-29 cargo flight to the ISS, a batch of Starlink satellites and NASA’s ocean-watching PACE satellite.

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