SpaceX announced a ridesharing program form small satellites which would allow companies to get a seat on the Falcon 9 rocket. The companies sharing the ride would have to pay a $2.25 million fee to get a ride on the Falcon 9, and the payment would let them load a payload of up to 150 kg, and launch it into a sun-synchronous orbit.
SpaceX wrote on their official website, “SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program will provide small satellite operators with regularly scheduled, dedicated Falcon 9 rideshare missions to SSO for ESPA class payloads for as low as $2.25M permission, which includes up to 150 kg of payload mass. Unlike traditional rideshare opportunities, these missions will not be dependent on a primary. These missions will be pre-scheduled and will not be held up by delays with co-passengers. For payloads who run into development or production challenges leading up to launch, SpaceX will allow them to apply 100% of monies paid towards the cost of rebooking on a subsequent mission (rebooking fees may apply).”
Now with the help of SpaceX, small companies can launch its satellite on time without having to worry about or wait for a space agency’s mission. However, SpaceX also mentioned that these ridesharing missions would not be delayed if a co-passenger is not ready on time.
The official statement reads, “With SpaceX’s SmallSat Program if you are ready to fly during the scheduled launch period, you will fly. Dedicated rideshare missions will not be delayed by co-passenger readiness. Passengers who run into delays that prevent them from launching can apply 100% of monies paid towards the cost of rebooking on a subsequent mission. Depending on timing of change rebooking fees may apply.”
The first launch will take place anytime between November 2020 and March 2021. However, the company has not specified as to how large a payload they are looking to carry during these launches.
According to a report released by analytics company Frost & Sullivan, small satellite launch revenue will be over $69 billion by 2030. SpaceX's website has a chart for the satellite ride-sharing program with the prices listed.
SpaceX would not be the first space agency to offer small satellite launches. The European agency Arianespace also announced last night that it would launch a rocket with small satellites in the first half of 2022. Even the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had also hosted multiple smallsat launches back in 2017.