December 16, 2019 •Evelyn J. Arevalo
Today, December 16, 2019, SpaceX successfully deployed the JCSAT-18/Kacific-1 satellite into geostationary orbit from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Marking SpaceX's 77th flight of the Falcon 9 rocket, and the 13th mission for SpaceX in 2019.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/dPuCfa89Sc— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 17, 2019
The JCSAT-18/Kacific-1 is a shared satellite chassis between Sky Perfect JSAT Corp. of Japan and Kacific, a startup telecom company headquartered in Singapore. The satellite will provide high-speed, low-cost, broadband satellite internet and mobile connection over the Asia-Pacific region. It will stream broadband services to 25 nations.
Successful deployment of JCSAT-18/Kacific1 confirmed! pic.twitter.com/fGf3hGakVE— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 17, 2019
SpaceX deployed the satellite into geostationary orbit where it will be orbiting at 35,786 kilometers above the equator, reached it's target altitude about 33 minutes following initial ignition. The satellite has a mass of approximately 14,991 pounds. It is expected to operate for at least 15 years.
Signal from satellites in geostationary orbit always comes from the same location in the sky, therefore only requires a simple antenna, with no moving parts for reception and transmission. This offers a more stable service. The satellite is equipped to transmit up to 60 gigabits per second of total throughput, via 56 Ka-band, high-throughput beams. It will cover Indonesia, The Philippines, Timor-Leste and South Asia with 28 spot beams, while the Pacific Islands and New Zealand will be covered with the other 28 beams. Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux, said in a statement:
"Kacific-1 is the newest and most powerful commercial satellite operating in the Asia-Pacific region, placing Kacific in an excellent position to grow alongside these markets. Its range of services, from mobile backhaul to broadband internet via VSAT terminals, will provide a catalyst for positive change in the nations it is about to serve. I’m thrilled to start seeing the social and economic impact of Kacific1."
About 45 minutes after liftoff, Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief will attempt to catch the fairing halves pic.twitter.com/lTEkEvwx6P— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 17, 2019
Forty-five minutes after lift off, SpaceX attempted to catch the Falcon 9's fairing halves with their two recovery boats named Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief. These boats are equipped with a large net to catch the fairing halves. They failed to catch them this time around. SpaceX said that both halves missed the boats narrowly:
"Ms. Tree and Ms. Chief narrowly missed catching the fairing halves—team is working to recover them for potential use on a future flight."
SpaceX recovery teams will still look for them to bring them out from the ocean to determine if they could be used again. Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, said that the fairing soft landed into the ocean and it could maybe be in good condition to be reused.
"Telemetry indicates soft touchdown on the water, so fairing might still be reusable."
The fairings do have integrated steering thrusters and parachutes so it's probable that they are in good condition. SpaceX aims to develop a rocket system that can enable them to reuse rocket parts, both to reduce manufacturing plus operation costs. Musk said in the past that reusing the fairing top could save SpaceX as much as $6 million per mission, which is around 10% of the total cost of a launch. Bringing fairings back to Earth also reduces space junk, so anything they can bring back from space to refurbish and reuse is a win.
Falcon 9 first stage has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship – the third landing of this booster pic.twitter.com/K1x0K2oFgq— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 17, 2019
During today's launch, SpaceX utilized a rocket booster that had flown two times before in two Commerical Resupply Missions to the International Space Station, the CRS-17 and CRS-18 mission. They recovered the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage amazingly for a third time! Approximately 8 minutes after lift off, it landed flawlessly on the Of Course I Still Love You autonomous droneship pad located in the Atlantic ocean. It became the 47th recovery landing of an orbital-class rocket booster. Another amazing landing for the history books! This first stage can now be reused again on a future mission!