On Saturday, November 12, SpaceX launched a pair of Intelsat Galaxy satellites designed to provide service to 100 million television viewers. Intelsat is the world’s largest integrated satellite and terrestrial network operator A flight-proven Falcon 9 lifted off at 11:06 a.m. EST from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, carrying Intelsat’s Galaxy 31 and Galaxy 32 satellites to orbit. The communications satellites were manufactured by Maxar Technologies and will provide continuous service to Intelsat’s North American media customers.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/u2frCG8Jji— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 12, 2022
The previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster that supported this mission is identified as B1051-14. The launch marked the veteran booster's 14th and final flight. It previously supported Dragon’s first crew demonstration mission to the International Space Station, the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, SiriusXM's SXM-7, and 10 Starlink missions. SpaceX typically recovers the boosters to reuse, however, it did not recover B1051-14 with a propulsive landing after Saturday's launch because the mission's flight profile required use of all available fuel to propel the twin satellites into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The Intelsat satellites each weigh about 6.6 metric tons (14,500 pounds). Galaxy 31 and 32 were deployed separately approximately half-an-hour after liftoff. Galaxy 31 separated from Falcon 9's upper-stage at 11:46 a.m. EST, and Intelsat confirmed its signal acquisition at 11:59 a.m. EST. Galaxy 32 was released at 11:41 a.m. EST, and Intelsat received signal from it at 11:50 a.m. EST.
“Today’s successful launch is part of our Galaxy fleet refresh plan and is a clear demonstration of Intelsat’s commitment to our media customers,” said Intelsat CEO Dave Wajsgras in a press release. “The Galaxy fleet is the most reliable and efficient media content distribution system in North America, and our customers can continue to count on it for years to come." Intelsat operates over 72 GEO satellites, 52 owned by Intelsat and 20 owned by its customers. Galaxy 31 satellite is designed to replace a satellite that was already in orbit, Galaxy 23, and will provide services across the United States. The Galaxy 32 satellite is set to replace an old C-band Galaxy 17 satellite that is in orbit. This satellite will provide service continuity for Intelsat’s high-performance media customers living in all of North America. Both will begin commercial operations in early 2023.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX / Intelsat Press