SpaceX had a busy friday! On March 17, the company performed coast-to-coast missions ~4 hours apart. First, a flight-proven Falcon 9 deployed a fleet of 52 Starlink satellites to orbit at 12:26 p.m. PT from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, as previously reported by TESMANIAN. Then, SpaceX launched the SES mission from Florida. “Congrats to the SpaceX team on launching two Falcon 9 missions ~4 hours apart today, completing our 18th and 19th missions of 2023 so far,” announced the company via Twitter. SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell shared in February that the company aims to launch up to 100 Falcon 9 missions this year, which is double the amount it launched in 2022. To achieve this ambitious launch manifest, SpaceX needs to perform missions at a record-breaking pace. “Congrats to SpaceX team for launching 2 rockets within 4 hours!” tweeted SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Congrats to the SpaceX team on launching two Falcon 9 missions ~4 hours apart today, completing our 18th and 19th missions of 2023 so far pic.twitter.com/EtDsDBP26r— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 18, 2023
SES is a Luxembourgish satellite telecommunications network provider that operates a constellation of satellites that broadcast video and data worldwide. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched the SES mission under clear skies at 7:38 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The rocket’s upper-stage carried the SES-18 and SES-19 satellites into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/ubvSTsKa15— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 17, 2023
The Falcon 9 first-stage that performed the SES mission is identified as B1069-6, it has now launched six missions including: SpaceX’s 24th NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-24) mission, the Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13F mission, OneWeb 1 satellites, and two Starlink missions. Around eight minutes after propelling the upper-stage to orbit, B1069-6 performed a propulsive landing on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ droneship. It marked the 180th recovery of an orbital-class rocket and the 152nd time that SpaceX reused a booster from its Falcon 9 Block 5 fleet.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/fAK4AKRBbn— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 17, 2023
The SES-18 and SES-19 satellites were released to orbit by Falcon 9’s upper-stage around 37-minutes after liftoff, SpaceX shared a video clip (linked below). “These satellites are essential parts of SES’s plan to achieve the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) program to clear C-band spectrum to enable wireless operators to deploy 5G services across the contiguous U.S. (CONUS) while ensuring that SES’s existing customers continue to enjoy uninterrupted TV, radio, and critical data transmission services to millions of Americans,” shared SES representatives in a press release. “This successful launch marks one of the last remaining milestones on our journey to clear a portion of the C-band, and we are incredibly grateful to Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, and all of our partners who helped make this plan a reality,” said Steve Collar, CEO of SES. “We are now on the home stretch in protecting our customers’ broadcasts while freeing crucial 5G spectrum and we look forward to successfully concluding our work well before the FCC’s December 2023 accelerated clearing deadline,” they stated.
Deployment of SES-19 confirmed pic.twitter.com/be6kqPZ7Ic— SpaceX (@SpaceX) March 18, 2023
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Mission Broadcast
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.