SpaceX's historic ride-share launch of India's Exseed-1 satellite delayed again

SmallSat's successful launch may mark the beginning of a new chapter in India’s private space industry.

In a historic rideshare mission, SpaceX was due to launch 70 small-satellites on a twice-reused Falcon 9 rocket on 20 November this year.

The launch, once pushed to 28 November "to conduct additional preflight inspections", has been delayed again to 2 December citing unfavourable weather conditions around the Falcon 9's launch pad in Vandenberg’s Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX added in a tweet later that the delay was due to harsh weather at extremely high altitudes, and that it would announce a new launch date “once confirmed by the Range.”

The SSO-A mission, if successful, will make history by launching and landing a reusable rocket a third time. It will also be the biggest move to launch an American ride-share rocket.

For now, ISRO still holds the world record for successfully sending 104 satellites to orbit in a single launch.

SpaceX's “SSO-A: SmallSat Express” holds a special significance for India regardless.

One of the many satellites on Falcon 9 hitching a lift to orbit is built by Exseed — a private Indian space venture headquartered in Mumbai. The year-old Exseed Space develops small satellite platforms that work in assembling, integrating, testing and operating satellites.

ExseedSAT during its developmental phase awaiting a 'bake test' in a thermovac chamber. Image courtesy: Twitter/Sanjay Nekkanti

ExseedSAT during its developmental phase awaiting a 'bake test' in a thermovac chamber. Image courtesy: Twitter/Sanjay Nekkanti

ExseedSAT1 is a CubeSat communications satellite designed to give a big boost to India’s amateur radio capabilities after ISRO’s microsatellite HAMSAT stopped its operations in 2014. Amateur radio, also called ham radio, offers a satellite link for non-commercial use of radio signal — messages, wireless experimentation, recreational use, radio sports, and emergency communication are some examples.

That in mind, a successful SmallSat launch could mark the beginning of a new chapter in India’s private space story. Particularly since Exseed is also working towards setting up the country’s first contract satellite manufacturing facility.

Once complete, Exseed's new facility will cater to a growing demand for CubeSats, nanosatellites and microsatellites globally.

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