The Vice President of commercial sales at SpaceX, Tom Ochinero stated that it will soon launch rideshare missions on Falcon 9 rocket from March next year and will not delay its launch dates for customers whose payloads are not ready on time. He said that their team learnt about importance of setting firm dates of departure for rideshare missions from the challenges faced by Spaceflight that had to coordinate flight of 64 satellites made by various third parties. The SSO-A mission was originally planned for launch in 2017 and at one point was destined to fly 70 satellites but finally it left earth last December.
Spaceflight affirmed that SSO-A was a logistical nightmare as customers’ readiness kept on fluctuating and Falcon9 which can carry 22800 kilograms to low earth orbit is a massive rocket to fill. Speaking at the Satellite Innovation 2019 conference Ochinero told that henceforth SpaceX will not postpone mission timelines to fill empty spaces on its rockets not wait for small satellite operators if they are late. He affirmed that the rockets will be allowed to fly as per schedule even if the space is not completely full.
Ochinero stated that smallsat aggregators face challenges similar to cattle herders when they try to get several customers’ payloads ready at the same time. Though it is a tough business being an aggregator it is equally touch for customers so they are taking these risks. SpaceX’s first self- monitored rideshare mission through Falcon9 to sun-synchronous orbit is set to fly out on March 2019. After this SpaceX will launch dedicated rideshare missions to these orbits every quarter. From next year SpaceX will offer rideshare opportunities to small satellites on a monthly basis by giving them space on its Starlink broadband launches. A post on SpaceX website states that smallsat operators that missed their booked missions can put payment for next month’s launch with a 10 % fee.