Private launch company SpaceX propelled a telecommunications satellite into orbit late Tuesday afternoon from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch was easily seen from the Orlando area, as well as north to at least Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach. In a press release, SpaceX said the Falcon 9 vehicle “…executed a picture-perfect flight, meeting 100% of mission objectives.” The rocket delivered the SES-8 telecommunications satellite into geostationary orbit, where it is set to provide Direct-to-Home satellite TV and internet connectivity to South Asia and Indochina.
The launch, held-off twice last week, went forward Tuesday at 5:41 p.m. from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. SpaceX said the Merlin vacuum engine on the Falcon 9 second stage fired for just over five minutes to place the SES-8 satellite in its parking orbit, and then briefly re-fired eighteen minutes later to deliver the satellite into final position. SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk said, “The successful insertion of the SES-8 satellite confirms the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers to the industry’s highest performance standards.”
In a press release, SES President and CEO Romain Bausch said, “We congratulate the SpaceX team for the success of a challenging launch campaign and our longstanding supplier Orbital for innovating with us in exploring new paths to orbit while delivering a brand-new, state-of-the-art satellite for Asia.” The SES-8 satellite was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation at its satellite manufacturing plant in Dulles, Virginia.
Satellite tests ahead
After launch Tuesday, Orbital’s Senior Vice President of Communications Satellite Programs, Christopher Richmond said, “Early in the initial check-out and testing process, the SES-8 mission is proceeding smoothly.” Engineers with SES and Orbital are scheduled to run a series of extensive in-orbit tests over the next several weeks on the satellite’s systems, and then officially turn over the spacecraft to SES for the start of commercial service. Orbital also said in a press release that the deployment of the SES-8 satellite made it the 148th Orbital-built satellite “…completed and delivered to commercial, civil government and national security customers during the last 30 years.”
More work for Falcon 9 rocket planned
SpaceX also said the launch was the first commercial liftoff from its facility in central Florida, and the first commercial flight in over five years from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company says it has around 50 launches planned, most for commercial customers. The launch was also the second of three flights required for the company to have the Falcon 9 system certified for the U.S. Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. After that certification, SpaceX says the Falcon 9 will also be qualified for National Security Space missions.
Click here to visit the Spacex website.
Click here to visit the SES website.
Click here to visit the Orbital Sciences Corporation website.
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