Today, April 28, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched a pair of satellites for Luxembourg-based satellite telecommunications network provider SES, which provides services to institutions and governments around the world. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 6:12 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, carrying two SES O3b mPOWER satellites to Medium-Earth Orbit (MEO).
The rocket soared into the cloudy sky above Florida’s coast; the weather was harsh in the region last night. SpaceX has another mission planned for this evening that will make use of its powerful Falcon Heavy rocket. “Last night’s storm in Florida produced hail, tornadoes, and lightning. Following this strike on the tower at 39A, teams performed additional checkouts of Falcon Heavy, the payloads, and ground support equipment,” shared SpaceX earlier this morning, alongside a photograph of the rocket’s launch tower struck by lightning (pictured below). The SES mission lifted off under 70% favorable weather conditions hours later. UPDATE: SpaceX postpones the Falcon Heavy mission that was scheduled ~2 hours after SES lifted off.
Last night’s storm in Florida produced hail, tornadoes, and lightning. Following this strike on the tower at 39A, teams performed additional checkouts of Falcon Heavy, the payloads, and ground support equipment pic.twitter.com/GZwCARaZTx— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 28, 2023
The Falcon 9 first-stage booster supporting the SES mission is identified as B1078-2, which previously launched SpaceX’s sixth operational NASA astronaut mission to the International Space Station (Crew-6). Recovering rockets to reuse has become routine for SpaceX. It enables the company to significantly reduce the cost of launching payload to orbit. Approximately 8-minutes after liftoff, the previously-flown booster landed on the ‘Just Read the Instructions’ autonomous spaceport droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. It marked SpaceX’s 188 landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 160 time it reused a previously-flown booster.
Falcon 9’s first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/b5sqIuan0Y— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 28, 2023
The SES O3b mPOWER satellites were released to orbit at around 1-hour and 53 minutes after liftoff. The satellites are called O3b mPOWER 3 and 4 which are the second pair of similar satellites to launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket; the first O3b satellites 1 and 2 were launched by SpaceX in December 2022. The O3b mPOWER constellation will someday have a total of 11 satellites designed to provide low-latency internet communications to SES customers with 96% of global coverage. The satellites will operate at an altitude of 8,000 kilometers in MEO; it will take 6 months for the satellites to maneuver into their operational orbit by using their onboard electric propulsion system. “Today, with our second-generation O3b mPOWER, we are bringing game-changing technology that delivers a unique combination of multiple gigabits per second of throughput at any location, guaranteed reliability and service flexibility that is a first in the industry. [...] Whether we are enabling governments to carry out critical missions securely, cruise operators to provide high-speed broadband access to passengers at all times, or mobile network operators to deploy 4G/5G networks in underconnected areas or restore communications networks in down time, O3b mPOWER is the satellite system of choice for applications where performance matters most,” stated SES CEO Steve Collar.
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All Featured Images Source: SpaceX Live 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.