SpaceX has successfully launched another Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral early this morning. This time the rocket was carrying an SES-12 satellite that will orbit space and bring direct-to-home TV, broadband and data relay services to customers across the Asia-Pacific region, Australia and the Middle East.
The Falcon 9 took off at 12:45 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) on Monday 4th June from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. A heavy stream of fiery exhaust and thick billowing clouds marked its successful ignition and take off.
The launch was delayed for four days from its June 1 date due to unspecified technical issues. The rocket tracked away in an easterly direction after launch putting on a mesmerizing display of light as it headed out of Earth's lower atmosphere.
SES mission marks 11th successful launch for 2018
The mission marked the 46th launch of a Falcon 9 and takes SpaceX launches up to 11 for the year. It is the fifth time a SpaceX rocket has taken off carrying a load for SES.
Each stage of the launch went according to plan. The nine Merlin 1D engines at the base of the first stage shut down after having burnt through all the boosters propellants.
The spent rocket stage fell away and the second stage took over. The first stage was not recovered as its lifespan was limited to two flights - the stage made a crash landing in the ocean.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/0o4C8oz9gP— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 4, 2018
SpaceX has plans to upgrade to block 5 boosters that are designed to make 50 to 60 flights before retirement. The Falcon 9 will boost the SES satellite onboard into a "supersynchronous" transfer orbit, from where the satellite's ion propulsion system will move the satellite into it a circular orbit 22,300 miles above the equator.
SES satellite to play big role in the future of communications
It will take 24 hours to complete one orbit. "We get a lot of performance from this vehicle," Martin Halliwell, chief technical officer of SES, said of the Falcon 9. "We're going really high. We're almost going to the limit of what we can do with the spacecraft. The good side of all this is it actually extends our (on orbit) life capability from 15 to 22 years. That's enormous."
SES-12 is expected to enter operational service early next year after finding its final position at 95 degrees east longitude, co-located with the SES-8 relay station.
The Satellite plays a huge role in delivering direct-to-home television and other communications services. It has six beams that cover a huge area with multiple customizable beams providing broadband connectivity and data relay.
"This is an incredibly flexible satellite that we're putting into our fleet," said John-Paul Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks. SES says satellites' use for aircraft and maritime communications is on the rise as are satellite internet services.
"We believe there are around about a billion people in the Asia-Pacific market that still don't have good connectivity through the devices you're all holding in your hands right now," Hemingway told reporters last week. "And satellite is one, and sometimes the only, way to connect 2G, 3G and 4G to those markets.