SES to finish C-band clearing program with SpaceX dual-satellite launch – Spaceflight Now


The SES 18 and 19 communications satellites inside a SpaceX payload processing facility at Cape Canaveral. Credit score: SpaceX

SES, the worldwide communications satellite tv for pc operator, plans to ship two extra C-band tv broadcasting spacecraft into orbit from Cape Canaveral Friday night time atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on a mission that can assist clear spectrum for transition to 5G community companies.

The SES 18 and SES 19 satellites are stacked one on prime of the opposite contained in the payload fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket set for liftoff throughout a 38-minute launch window opening at 7:38 p.m. EDT (2338 GMT) Friday, a couple of minutes after sundown on Florida’s Area Coast.

There may be an 80% probability of excellent climate for launch of the Falcon 9 rocket Friday night time. The primary climate concern is with floor winds.

Heading east from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station, the nine-engine booster stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will return to Earth for touchdown on a drone ship a number of hundred miles downrange within the Atlantic Ocean, whereas the higher stage will fireplace its single Merlin engine two occasions earlier than deploying SES 18 and 19 one by one 32 minutes and 37 minutes after liftoff.

The Falcon 9 will goal to launch the 2 Northrop Grumman-built satellites right into a “sub-synchronous” switch orbit with an apogee, or excessive level, wanting the satellites’ ultimate 22,000-mile-high working altitude in geostationary orbit.

In launch configuration, the 2 almost equivalent satellites weigh 15,995 kilos (7,255 kilograms), in line with a Northrop Grumman spokesperson. The decrease satellite tv for pc within the dual-payload stack, SES 19, weighs about 100 kilos greater than the higher satellite tv for pc as a result of it carries structural parts to straight join the spacecraft collectively through the journey into orbit.

SES 18 and 19 would be the fourth and fifth new C-band communications satellites to hitch SES’s fleet within the final 9 months. The flurry of latest C-band satellite tv for pc launches stem from a 2020 order for six new spacecraft, together with a spare, as a part of a Federal Communications Fee resolution to clear 300 megahertz of C-band spectrum for the roll-out of 5G cell connectivity networks.

The brand new C-band satellites will function in a narrower swath of spectrum, enabling the printed of digital TV companies to just about 120 million properties in the USA, whereas clearing the 300 megahertz of spectrum now assigned to be used by 5G operators.

The FCC auctioned U.S. C-band spectrum — beforehand used for satellite-based video broadcast companies to thousands and thousands of shoppers — to 5G operators, that are paying satellite tv for pc operators like SES by way of multibillion-dollar compensation agreements. Intelsat, one other giant tv broadcast satellite tv for pc operator, ordered seven new C-band satellites as a part of the C-band clearing initiative.

SES launched the primary new C-band satellite tv for pc, SES 22, on a Falcon 9 rocket final June. Two extra C-band satellites, SES 20 and 21, launched in tandem on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in October. SES ordered a spare satellite tv for pc, SES 23, that the corporate doesn’t plan to launch, pending a profitable deployment of SES 18 and 19 on the following SpaceX mission, an SES spokesperson mentioned.

SES 18 and 19 will unfurl their photo voltaic panels and full a sequence of post-launch checkouts, then use a hydrazine-fueled predominant engine to reshape its orbit from the elliptical, or oval-shaped, switch orbit the Falcon 9 will put them in after Friday’s launch. The satellites will maneuver into round geostationary orbits some 22,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, the place their velocity will match the speed of Earth’s rotation, holding them over the identical location on the planet and offering a hard and fast protection zone for his or her C-band broadcast antennas.

The brand new satellites, based mostly on Northrop Grumman’s GEOStar satellite tv for pc design, needs to be prepared to start industrial service in June to offer TV, radio, and information relay companies throughout the USA. SES 18 will head for a place at 103 levels west longitude, the place it should change the C-band payload on the SES 3 satellite tv for pc launched in 2011. SES 19 will enter service at 135 levels west longitude, co-located with the SES 22 satellite tv for pc launched final yr.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket heads downrange from Cape Canaveral throughout a launch in 2022. Credit score: Michael Cain / Spaceflight Now / Coldlife Images

The Falcon 9 rocket assigned to loft the SES 18 and 19 satellites can be powered by a primary stage booster, numbered B1069, making its sixth flight to area. The launch Friday night time from Cape Canaveral is scheduled simply 4 hours after one other Falcon 9 rocket is ready to blast off from Vandenberg Area Pressure Base in California.

The Falcon 9 flight from California is ready to launch at 12:26 p.m. PDT (3:26 p.m. EDT; 1926 GMT), 4 hours and 12 minutes earlier than the opening of the launch window for the Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral.

If each missions launch as scheduled, it might set a brand new file for the shortest turnaround time between SpaceX Falcon 9 launches. The present file is 7 hours and 10 minutes, and was set final October with launches from Florida and California.

The back-to-back missions can be SpaceX’s 18th and nineteenth flights of the yr, and 211th and 212th flights total by a Falcon 9 rocket.

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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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