Falcon 9 rocket delivers Brazilian satellite to space in historic flight

The mission “transporter-3” from SpaceX was launched into space on Thursday afternoon (13), with a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 105 satellites into Earth orbit – including a Brazilian satellite developed by startup Pion Labs. The launch took place at 12:25 pm (Brasília time) and corresponded to the 10th delivery of this rocket (model B1058-10), which successfully returned to base.

The launch was practiced in a modality known as “rideshare”, that is, several companies use a single Falcon 9 as a cargo delivery vehicle. Think of it as if SpaceX serves as an Uber for satellites, with the added benefit of not having to face repeated cancellations, dynamic pricing or the music you probably don’t like on the radio – but the fare is $1 million (R) $5.52 million) or more.

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The delivery departed Cape Canaveral, Florida, ascending approximately 525 kilometers (km) towards Earth orbit. Once delivered, the satellites assumed a rhythm synchronized with the Sun (heliocentric orbit), where they follow the movement of the Sun and pass over a point on the ground at the same time each day.

The third dedicated satellite delivery mission was successful, with Falcon 9’s second stage separating within minutes of launch. The first stage returned to a landing zone close to the launch pad.

In the mission, most of the satellites were made by Planet Incorporated, a company that captures images of the Earth’s surface. It had most of the payload (44 satellites). Kepler Communications also had six satellites, all part of its constellation for offering network services.

Falcon 9 delivers Brazilian satellite

A single item on the Transporter-3 flight actually concerns us more than any other item in the cargo. Developed by the São Paulo startup PION Labs, the satellite “PION-BR1” is, according to the company’s official website, “a radio amateur mission combined with education with the aim of promoting access to space technologies and interaction between students and the radio amateur community”. In addition, “the satellite’s main mission will be a digital experiment in storing and sending messages using the NGHam protocol.”

The satellite will act to assist students who are part of the OBSAT (Brazilian Satellite Olympiad) program, coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil (MCTI). The study groups were chosen in July 2021. On the occasion, the president of the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), Carlos Moura, sent a message to the chosen groups congratulating them on their achievement. “We are now finishing the first phase and there were several teams that applied all over Brazil. We are very happy because very interesting proposals have appeared”, said Moura.

The PION-BR1 is roughly a small CubeSat measuring 125 cubic centimeters (cm³) and less than one kilogram (kg) in weight. It will transmit signals that can be picked up by radio amateur instruments on the ground. According to the company’s website, its development is in partnership with Obsat, the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Lasc (Latin American Space Challenge), AMSAT-BR and the Brazilian League of Radio Amateurs (Labre).

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About Raju Singh

Raju has an exquisite taste. For him, video games are more than entertainment and he likes to discuss forms and art.

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