Soyuz rocket lifts off with 73 satellites

July 14, 2017

A Russian Soyuz booster lifted off Friday from Kazakhstan on a complex mission to deploy 73 satellites into three different orbits, including a Russian spacecraft to locate forest fires, 48 CubeSats for Planet’s global Earth observation fleet, and eight nanosatellites for Spire Global’s commercial weather network.

Planet, owner of more than 100 Dove CubeSats currently looking down on Earth, added 48 more spacecraft to its fleet with Friday’s launch to help the company collect imagery to produce daily global maps. The Doves will be operational in a couple of months, Planet said, after spreading out in orbit through a process called differential drag, in which the CubeSats are pointed to change their orbits with the help of aerodynamic pressure from the rarefied atmosphere in low Earth orbit.

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