On SpaceX’s ninth Starlink mission CarboNIX, Exolaunch’s newly developed zero-shock separation system, successfully deployed three Planet SkySats microsatellites into low Earth orbit. Falcon 9 lifted on June 13th at 5:21am from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying three SkySats as a rideshare payload. Each 110 kilogram SkySat was mounted on top of the Starlink stack using the CarboNIX systems, and was later deployed by them into an exceptionally stable attitude.
The unique CarboNIX pusher arm system ensured that there was near-zero tumble after separation. With CarboNIX, the average tip-off rate is less than 1 deg/s, and no axis exceeds 2 deg/s, regardless of how mass is distributed across the payload satellite. Using the traditional separation systems, satellites can tumble on the order of 20 deg/s, and it is incumbent on the satellite attitude control system to reduce this rotation rate and regain control of the satellite orientation.
This launch marked the first time SpaceX has accommodated rideshare payloads on its Starlink missions. And this was the first commercial use of CarboNIX after its successful qualification in space in 2019.
Watch the video of SkySats being deployed with CarboNIX into a sun-synchronous orbit on Falcon 9 (Credit: SpaceX)
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