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SpaceX veteran Falcon 9 rocket launches SES O3b mPOWER mission

SpaceX veteran Falcon 9 rocket launches SES O3b mPOWER mission

SES is a Luxembourgish-French satellite telecommunications network that provides coverage globally to mobile and fixed network operators, as well as institutions and governments. Its services include direct-to-home video content, high-definition TV, and data. The company operates approximately 70 satellites in different orbits, some satellites in medium-Earth orbit (MEO) and others in geostationary orbit (GEO). 

SpaceX has previously launched multiple SES satellites. It deployed a SES' communications satellite into GEO in June. This week, SpaceX launched a pair of next-generation satellites that will be part of SES’ broadband constellation. On Friday, December 16 SpaceX launched the SES O3b mPOWER mission. A veteran Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 5:48 p.m. ET from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, to deploy the two satellites into MEO. 

It marked the veteran rocket’s eighth flight. SpaceX is a leader in the aerospace industry, it reuses Falcon 9’s first-stage booster to launch payload to orbit frequently and reduce the cost of spaceflight. The booster that supported this SES mission is identified as B1067-8. It previously launched SpaceX’s 22nd and 25th NASA Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-22 & CRS-25) missions, SpaceX’s third and fourth operational NASA astronaut flight (Crew-3 & Crew-4) to the International Space Station,  the Turkish Turksat 5B communications satellite, Crew-4, the Eutelsat HOTBIRD 13G satellite, and one Starlink mission. 

Approximately eight minutes after propelling the Falcon 9’s upper-stage – that carried the SES O3b mPOWER satellites – to orbit, booster B1067-8 returned to land on the ‘A Shortfall of Gravitas’ autonomous droneship situated in the Atlantic Ocean. It was SpaceX’s 157 landing of an orbital-class rocket and the 131st time it reuses a first-stage booster in its reusable fleet.

The first of two SES O3b mPOWER satellites was released to orbit around 1 hour and 53 minutes after liftoff, the second was released right after. They will operate in MEO at an altitude of 8,000 kilometers above Earth’s surface. The satellites are equipped with onboard xenon-fueled thrusters to maneuver into their operational orbit, which will take a few months. SES representatives expect the satellites to reach their designated orbit in April 2023.

“Much more than just another launch, today marks the next milestone of our MEO journey. Since starting this journey, we have gone on to positively impact millions around the world. 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,” said CEO of SES Steve Collar. “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.”

The SES satellites are manufactured by Boeing. “From concept to reality, the partnership with SES while developing the first-of-its-kind technology has been remarkable,” said Jim Chilton, Senior Vice President of Boeing Space and Launch. “The next few months will be another critical collaboration period as we prepare the next nine satellites for launch and enable these first satellites to fulfill their mission to connect people around the world.” SpaceX is scheduled to launch more SES satellites in 2024.  

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Featured Image Source: SpaceX / SES press release

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

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.

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