SpaceX completes record year with Israeli imaging satellite launch


 WASHINGTON — SpaceX capped off the busiest year in its two-decade historical past Dec. 30 with a Falcon 9 launch of a commercial Israeli imaging satellite.

A Falcon 9 lifted off at 2:38 a.m. Eastern from Space Launch Complex four East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The rocket’s first stage, flying its eleventh mission, landed again on the launch site eight minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 higher stage deployed its payload, the EROS C3 imaging satellite, nearly quarter-hour after liftoff. The satellite tv for pc was launched at an altitude of nearly 500 kilometers in an uncommon mid-inclination retrograde orbit, rather than the sun-synchronous orbit generally used for optical imaging spacecraft.

EROS C3 was constructed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for ImageSat International, a Tel Aviv-based commercial imaging company. The 400-kilogram satellite, based on IAI’s OPTSAT-3000 bus, is designed to take images at a decision of 30 centimeters.

ImageSat International, which went public in February on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, stated in a prospectus filed as a half of that course of that EROS C3 cost the corporate $186 million, a determine that included the spacecraft itself, the launch and insurance. The firm deliberate to make use of a half of the $100 million raised from going public to pay a few of the remaining prices to construct and launch the spacecraft.

EROS C3 joins EROS B, launched in 2006, as satellites owned and operated by ImageSat International. The firm additionally offers imagery from two different satellites, which it calls EROS C1 and EROS C2, that are owned by an unnamed third party however have capabilities similar to EROS C3. Those satellites could additionally be a half of the Ofeq series of Israeli reconnaissance satellites, additionally constructed by IAI, which function in mid-inclination retrograde orbits similar to EROS C3 due to the limitations of launching from Israel.

EROS C3 is a half of ImageSat’s EROS NG constellation, which incorporates EROS C1 and C2 in addition to a deliberate future imaging satellite, EROS C4, slated for launch in 2026. EROS NG will additionally incorporate two artificial aperture radar satellites that will be owned by an unnamed third party and commercialized by ImageSat.

The launch of EROS C3 accomplished the most active year to date for SpaceX. The firm carried out sixty one launches, all successful, in 2022. All however one, a Falcon Heavy launch for the U.S. Space Force, were of the company’s Falcon 9 vehicle, which has become a workhorse for the worldwide space industry.

SpaceX nearly doubled its launch rate from 2021, when the corporate carried out a then-record 31 Falcon 9 launches. That launch exercise was pushed by the company’s Starlink constellation, which accounted for 34 of the sixty one launches in 2022.

The sixty one launches SpaceX carried out in 2022 exceeded a goal of 60 set by Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX, in a tweet in March. Musk has not publicly stated what number of launches he expects SpaceX to conduct in 2023, however SpaceX’s first launch of the brand new year, the Transporter-6 devoted rideshare mission, is scheduled for no sooner than Jan. 2 on a Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40.


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