SpaceX launches communication satellite, ditches old booster

Doug Carpenter
June 6, 2018

The satellite will be deployed roughly 32 minutes after liftoff.

SES-8, launched in December 2013, and was also launched by SpaceX and was the rocket company's first geostationary launch, and also the first communications satellite to use a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Falcon's first-stage booster previously flew last September.

The rocket lifted off at 12:45 a.m. and is the second flight for the launcher's first stage, reports.

The satellite could help beam TV programming directly to more than 18 million Asia-Pacific homes together with sister satellite SES-8, which SpaceX launched in 2013.

Instead, the satellite will rely on electric propulsion, using pulses of xenon gas to slowly circularize its orbit around the equator over a period of months.

"We get a lot of performance from this vehicle", Martin Halliwell, chief technical officer of SES, said of the Falcon 9. Among a number of use cases, it is created to expand the operator's capabilities to provide direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, including rapidly growing markets such as India and Indonesia.

Monday's launch attempt will try to send the 5.4-ton SES-12 communications satellite to a high transfer orbit.

This is part of SpaceX's wider goal to make launching rockets similar to commercial flights, where they "can be flown again and again".

The 12,000-pound SES-12 spacecraft, built by Airbus Defence and Space, will deliver high-speed data to across Asia and the Pacific. "And satellite is one, and sometimes the only, way to connect 2G, 3G and 4G to those markets". The rocket carried a prototype Dragon spacecraft designed for cargo trips to the International Space Station.

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