SpaceX’s first launch of 2021 will launch Turksat-5A, a Turkish communications satellite, atop a previously-flown Falcon 9. The 229-foot-tall rocket is scheduled to liftoff tonight (January 7) from Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, during a four-hour launch window that begins at 8:28 p.m. Eastern Time (EST) and closes at 12:28 a.m. EST. The United States Space Force 45th Weather Squadron forecasts a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions tonight. If for any reason the satellite is not launched today, a back-up launch opportunity is also scheduled for Friday, January 8, at the same time.
The Falcon 9 rocket that will deploy the Turksat-5A satellite previously conducted three missions, including launching a national security mission for the United States Space Force last year when the booster, identified as B1060, deployed the GPS III Space Vehicle 03. Booster B1060 also deployed two fleets of Starlink satellites. Now, the same booster will perform its fourth mission. Approximately nine minutes after B1060 deploys the Turksat-5A satellite to orbit inside the fairing, the booster's first-stage will return from space to perform a propulsive landing on the Just Read the Instructions autonomous droneship, which will be stationed 650-kilometers downrange in the Atlantic Ocean. –“Falcon 9’s fairing is also flight-proven: one half previously supported the GPS III Space Vehicle 03 mission and the other flew aboard the ANASIS-II mission,” the company shared.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will propel the Turksat-5A communications satellite more than 36,000 kilometers above Earth, where the satellite will be deployed at around half-an-hour after liftoff. Upon deployment, Turksat-5A will unfurl its solar panels and use its integrated thrusters to propel itself in geostationary orbit. Turksat-5A will be the country’s fourth satellite in space. SpaceX will also deploy the country’s next satellite Turksat-5B later this year. Both satellites are manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space; Each weigh 3,400 kilograms and is equipped with 42 transponders that will beam signals down to Earth. The satellites feature Ku- and Ka-band capabilities, providing broadband speeds of up to 50 gigabits per second. Last year on September 8, the head of Turkey’s Presidential Digital Transformation Office, Ali Taha Koc, said –“With Turksat-5A, Turkey will have a coverage area that encompasses the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and South Africa.”
In 2020, the Chief Executive of Turksat Cenk Sen, told Turkish reporters the country aims to have at least six satellites in orbit. “Turkey is ambitiously moving forward to become a competitive space systems manufacturer, and will become a stakeholder for manned and unmanned space missions in the near future. We expect the satellite market to become much more competitive in the coming years. But Turksat will be more than ready for any competition with its six satellites,” he said. You can watch the Turksat-5A Mission in the video below, courtesy of SpaceX.
WATCH IT LIVE!
About the Author
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.