On Monday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket ferried a powerful communications satellite into orbit. The SES satellite will offer broadband and direct-to-home TV to people living in the Middle East, Australia, and the Asia-Pacific region.
The lift-off at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station had been delayed for four days because of some technical issues. The launch was the 56th launch for the private space exploration company SpaceX, the 11th launch this year, and the fifth SES launch.
On Monday, SpaceX did not try to recover the block 4 first stage rocket to reuse it for future flights. The stage fell into the ocean after the second booster’s engine took over to get the satellite into space.
Block 4 stages can only make two flights before they retire. The next-generation block 5 boosters will make up to 60 flights before becoming unusable. The second stage of the rocket launched on Monday was from the bloc 5 generation.
The New Satellite Will Have an ‘Enormous Life’ Capability
The 11,800-pound communications satellite was placed in a super-synchronous orbit, whose highest point is at 36,000 miles above our planet. The satellite is equipped with its own propulsion system that will move it to a circular orbit above the Equator. On that orbit, the satellite will take 24 hours to complete an orbital journey, which will make it appear stationary in the night sky.
Because SpaceX successfully placed the SES into the super-synchronous transfer orbit, the satellite will save enough fuel to stay five more years in the equatorial orbit. Also, the SES will reach its destination one month earlier this way.
“We’re going really high. We’re almost going to the limit of what we can do with the spacecraft,” SES chief technical officer Martin Halliwell said about the satellite. Thanks to SpaceX, the satellite’s lifespan will be extended from 15 to 22 years, which is an “enormous” life capability for a communications satellite.
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