SpaceX mission this week to kick off busy launch calendar for SES – Spaceflight Now

The SES 22 communications satellite tv for pc throughout encapsulation inside SpaceX’s payload fairing. Credit score: SpaceX

A brand new European-built tv broadcasting satellite tv for pc to cowl the USA is ready for liftoff Wednesday on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the primary of 11 SES-owned telecom spacecraft scheduled to fly on six launches from Cape Canaveral by the top of the 12 months.

The launches for SES, one of many largest conventional telecom satellite tv for pc operators, will use 5 SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets and one United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.

5 of the satellites, together with the SES 22 spacecraft set for launch Wednesday, are designed for C-band tv broadcast providers over the USA. SES additionally plans to launch the primary six satellites for the corporate’s O3b mPower broadband community, offering knowledge connectivity and web providers world wide.

The primary six O3b mPower satellites will launch on three Falcon 9 rockets, heading for positions in a novel orbit at an altitude of about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers). These three launches are presently on observe to fly by the top of 2022, in response to SES.

The upcoming satellite tv for pc deployment marketing campaign comes after a comparatively quiet interval in launches for SES, with only one new SES satellite tv for pc launched since 2019. However the schedules for 2 totally different segments of SES’s enterprise have aligned to create this 12 months’s rapid-fire launch cadence.

The O3b mPower program, first introduced in 2017, is nearing the end line in improvement. And the SES 22 launch is the primary mission to replenish SES’s fleet of C-band tv broadcast satellites to exchange C-band capability being transitioned to 5G mobile community providers by the Federal Communications Fee.

“SES 22 is a C-band satellite tv for pc, so it’s a part of our program of C-band clearing within the U.S.,” stated Christophe De Hauwer, SES’s chief technique and improvement officer. “It’s a C-band solely satellite tv for pc. It is going to be launched to 135 levels west, which is the placement we’re replenishing, from the place we’ll present principally TV and radio providers over the U.S., but in addition some knowledge providers over the nation.”

From its parking spot in geostationary orbit greater than 22,000 miles (almost 36,000 kilometers) over the equator at 135 levels west longitude, SES 22 will start a 15-year mission beaming cable TV programming for SES’s company purchasers.

The SES 22 satellite tv for pc, weighing about 7,700 kilos (3.5 metric tons), is heading for a place in geostationary orbit after launch Wednesday from Cape Canaveral. The spacecraft, constructed by Thales Alenia House in France, is buttoned up contained in the nostril cone of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff throughout a two-hour window opening at 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT).

The 229-foot-tall Falcon 9 rocket will head east after departing Florida’s House Coast, powered by 9 kerosene-fueled Merlin most important engines producing 1.7 million kilos of thrust. The primary stage, tail quantity B1073, will fly on its second mission and head for a vertical touchdown on SpaceX’s drone ship within the Atlantic Ocean greater than 400 miles (about 670 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral.

The higher stage’s single Merlin engine will hearth two occasions to inject the SES 22 spacecraft into an elliptical, or oval-shaped, switch orbit ranging greater than 20,000 miles above Earth. Deployment of the SES 22 satellite tv for pc from the Falcon 9 higher stage is scheduled at T+plus 33 minutes, 26 seconds, in response to a mission timeline supplied by SpaceX.

The SES 22 communications satellite tv for pc throughout encapsulation inside SpaceX’s payload fairing. Credit score: SpaceX

SES 22 will unfurl its photo voltaic panels and antennas, and carry out a sequence of orbit-raising burns with a liquid-fueled engine to circularize its orbit at geostationary altitude over the equator. After finishing in-orbit verification testing, SES 22 is scheduled to enter business service in early August, in response to De Hauwer.

The Federal Communications Fee’s finalized a program in 2020 to clear 300 megahertz of C-band spectrum for the roll-out of 5G cellular connectivity networks.

The FCC auctioned U.S. C-band spectrum — beforehand used for satellite-based video broadcast providers to hundreds of thousands of shoppers — to 5G operators.

In compensation for shedding the spectrum, Intelsat and SES — the 2 largest C-band satellite tv for pc operators within the U.S. market — are set to obtain $4.87 billion and $3.97 billion from 5G bidders, respectively, if they’ll speed up the transition of C-band providers to a smaller swath of spectrum by December 2023, two years earlier than the FCC’s mandated deadline.

Intelsat and SES — together with operators with a smaller share of the U.S. C-band market — can even be reimbursed for his or her C-band relocation prices, together with satellite tv for pc manufacturing and launch bills, by the winners of the FCC’s C-band public sale.

As a part of the settlement, the satellite tv for pc operators had been incentivized to purchase new C-band broadcasting satellites from U.S. producers to function within the 4.0 to 4.2 GHz swath of the C-band spectrum. The decrease portion of the band beforehand allotted to satellite tv for pc operators — 3.7 to 4.0 GHz — is being transitioned to 5G providers.

De Hauwer stated SES has already cleared the decrease 120 MHz of the C-band spectrum via reallocation of programming on current satellites, however assembly the remainder of the C-band clearing mandate requires the launch of recent spacecraft. In 2020, SES ordered six new C-band satellites, together with a spare, and Intelsat procured seven C-band satellites.

SES says the brand new C-band satellites will allow the printed of digital TV providers to almost 120 million houses in the USA.

“We have now to have extra satellites within the sky in order that we then unfold the loading on a bigger variety of satellites versus what we have now now,” De Hauwer stated. “We are going to launch 5 C-band satellites. They’re all going to be launched this 12 months, or that is actually the plan. With that, we’ll be good. That’s the capability we’d like within the sky in an effort to do the repacking (of the C-band spectrum).”

A Falcon 9 rocket stands on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral House Pressure Station earlier than launch with the SES 22 satellite tv for pc. Credit score: SpaceX

After the launch of SES 22 this week, two extra C-band satellites are assigned to fly to house on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket within the third quarter of this 12 months, in response to De Hauwer. Sources stated that mission is presently set for launch in late August or early September.

The SES 20 and 21 satellites flying on the Atlas 5 rocket had been constructed by Boeing, and are fitted with all-electric propulsion programs. The electrical thrusters are extra environment friendly however much less highly effective than standard liquid-fueled rocket engines, and would take months to reposition the SES 20 and 21 satellites from an elliptical switch orbit into their remaining round working orbits within the geostationary belt.

The Atlas 5’s Centaur higher stage has the power to position the SES 20 and 21 satellites very near their working positions in geostationary orbit.

“This rocket is the best rocket for that particular mission,” De Hauwer stated. “We couldn’t afford an orbit-raising of quite a few months. It has to have the ability to do direct injection, so the 2 satellites might be nearly instantly in geostationary orbit and that required the Atlas 5 from ULA.”

Two extra C-band satellites — SES 18 and 19 constructed by Northrop Grumman — will launch collectively on a single Falcon 9 rocket across the finish of the 12 months. These satellites use chemical propulsion for sooner orbit-raising, to allow them to launch into a normal elliptical switch orbit.

Launching all the brand new C-band satellites shortly was a important a part of the spectrum clearing program.

“A part of our most important standards in deciding on the totally different distributors was what would be the timeline for them to ship the spacecraft,” De Hauwer stated. “Timing is every little thing on this program. As soon as the satellites are launched, we then want to maneuver the shoppers round when the satellites are being moved.

Thales Alenia House constructed the SES 22 satellite tv for pc in 22 months, De Hauwer stated.


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Comply with Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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