On Saturday, October 8, SpaceX reused a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket a 14th time to deploy two Intelsat Galaxy telecommunication satellites. The launch came after the mission was delayed a couple of times due to a rocket helium leak. "Tiny helium leak (just barely triggered abort), but we take no risks with customer satellites. Standing down to investigate," shared SpaceX founder Elon Musk via Twitter on October 6. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are fuelled by rocket-grade RP-1 Kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen, the tanks are equipped with composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) that are filled with helium gas that keep the rocket's propellant tanks pressurized while the propellant is drained. Engineers rapidly addressed the issue and proceeded to launch on Saturday. The flight-proven booster, identified as B1060-14, lifted off at 7:05 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It successfully deployed the Intelsat Galaxy G-33 and G-34 satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/u8f8lXcW0e— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 8, 2022
Approximately eight-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the booster landed on the 'A Shortfall of Gravitas' autonomous droneship stationed around 663-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked the 14th launch and landing of booster B1060-14 which previously supported the deployment of the U.S. Space Force's GPS III-3 navigation satellites, the Republic of Turkey's Turksat 5A satellite, SpaceX's Transporter-2 rideshare mission, and now 10 Starlink missions. To date, SpaceX has launched 183 Falcon 9 missions, landed orbital-class rockets a total of 147 times and reused first-stage boosters in its fleet 123 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the A Shortfall of Gravitas droneship - the 14th launch and landing of this booster! pic.twitter.com/ywUWHBn8qE— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 8, 2022
Galaxy G-33 and G-34 "are the next satellites in Intelsat's comprehensive Galaxy fleet refresh plan, a new generation of technology that will provide Intelsat Media customers in North America with high-performance media distribution capabilities and unmatched penetration of cable headends," said Intelsat representatives. The satellites are equipped to provide cable television broadcast to 99.9% of the customers Intelsat serves in the United States. The satellites are "critical to Intelsat's U.S. C-band clearing strategy." The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working with telecommunications companies to clear the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz (gigahertz) bands by December 5, 2023. The FCC plans to pay Intelsat $4.87 billion to vacate the C-band spectrum for other companies to use it for 5G cellular network services. The new Galaxy G-33 and G-34 satellites will help the company achieve that objective. The satellites were released by the Falcon 9’s upper-stage around half-an-hour after liftoff, as seen in the video clip below.
T-minus 1 day until launch! Galaxy 34 will replace Galaxy 12 at 129 degrees west onc2 in service in late 2022. @northropgrumman manufactured G-33 and 34 are launching on a @SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from @SLDelta45 in Cape Canaveral Florida. Learn More: https://t.co/ZZIRKA7dvY pic.twitter.com/UELUnVGPXb— Intelsat (@INTELSAT) October 5, 2022
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX