It’s been a busy weekend for SpaceX as the private space company put three of its Falcon 9 rockets into orbit over a three-day period. SpaceX’s latest launch may even have carried a secret government payload, in addition to launching a backup satellite for low-Earth orbit operator Globalstar.
The back-to-back starts kicked away Friday from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, where a Falcon 9 rocket was carrying 53 Starlink satellites into orbit as part of the company’s growing broadband internet mega-constellation. The rocket’s first stage booster set a new record for SpaceX, marking the 13th flight and landing for the reusable booster.
Falcon 9 launches from SpaceX the next day started a radar imaging satellite for the Bundeswehr. Sarah-1, built by Airbus, launched from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base, California to replace the existing SAR-Lupe system. The satellite is intended to provide images of the earth’s surface at any time of the day and regardless of weather conditions.
On Sunday, SpaceX made its final begin of the weekend. Its third Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The company identified a payload on the rocket, Globalstar FM15, a backup satellite for phone and low-speed data communications company Globalstar.
However, multiple reports suggest this lone satellite wasn’t the only one to hitchhike into low Earth orbit. Those who watched the launch and deployment of the Globalstar payload noted that the rocket had three unusual burns landed on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship, used when the rocket is carrying heavier payloads, although the Globalstar payload would have been light enough to land back on the launch pad, according to SpaceNews.
Additionally, SpaceX delivered a Video of the payload deployment in orbit, showing that it had been deployed almost two hours after launch. The video showed what a could have been payload adapter on the rocket’s second stage, suggesting that the rocket may have deployed another payload after its initial burn. The mysterious circumstances gave faith rumours suggesting that SpaceX had launched a US government classified payload. SpaceX has not confirmed the second payload and did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Sunday’s launch marked SpaceX’s 26th launch in 2022, and the company plans to grow even bigger for the rest of the year. To Passing an Environmental Impact Assessment by the Federal Aviation Administration For a planned site expansion in Boca Chica, Texas, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that The Starship heavy rocket would be ready for its first orbital launch in July. Musk hopes Starship will carry the company’s next-generation Starlink satellites into orbit, worrying some astronomers about their potential Interference in the observation of the cosmos. SpaceX also recently several employees fired for criticizing Musk’s behavior.