This Tuesday the Space Agency Planet Labs launched 36 SuperDove satellites, Flock 4y, into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The team established contact with all of them, marking Planet’s 32nd successful launch and totaling over 500 satellites put into orbit since their founding.
They are propelled by the rocket to the brisk pace of 7.6 kilometers per second (or 4.7 miles per second) before they slip off into empty space like a skydiver. Planet’s team then makes radio contact and ensures everything is operating as it’s supposed to. They stabilize them, deploy their solar panels, update their software, and get everything updated and calibrated. A few more tweaks later and they start popping out the images we all know and love.
This most recent launch took place in Cape Canaveral. Some of the world’s most famous space launches — from the iconic-looking Space Shuttle to the moon-landing Apollo missions — took off and were managed at the Kennedy Space Center.