Successful HotFire Test Sets SpaceX on Course for Historic Relaunch of 1st ‘Flight-Proven’ Rocket

SPACE VIEW PARK/KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – This afternoons (Mar. 27) successful hotfire test of a recycled Falcon 9 booster at the Kennedy Space Center sets SpaceX on course for a rendezvous with history involving the first ever relaunch of a ‘Flight-Proven’ rocket later this week.

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Used SpaceX Booster Set for Historic 1st Reflight is Test Fired in Texas

The first orbit class rocket that will ever be reflown to launch a second payload to space was successfully test fired by SpaceX engineers at the firms Texas test facility last week.

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SES Boldly Goes Where No Firm Has Gone Before, Inks Deal to Fly on 1st SpaceX ‘Flight-Proven’ Booster

First launch of flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage will use CRS-8 booster that delivered Dragon to the International Space Station in April 2016. Credit: SpaceX

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL — The telecommunications giant SES is boldly going where no company has gone before by making history in inking a deal today, Aug. 30, to fly the expensive SES-10 commercial satellite on the first ever launch of a ‘Flight-Proven’ SpaceX booster.

Luxembourg-based SES and Hawthrone, CA-based SpaceX today jointly announced the agreement to “launch SES-10 on a flight-proven Falcon 9 orbital rocket booster” before the end of this year.

“The satellite, which will be in a geostationary orbit and expand SES’s capabilities across Latin America, is scheduled for launch in Q4 2016. SES-10 will be the first-ever satellite to launch on a SpaceX flight-proven rocket booster,” according to a joint statement.

That first launch of a flight-proven Falcon 9 first stage will use the CRS-8 booster that delivered a SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station in April 2016.

The deal marks a major milestone and turning point in SpaceX CEO and billionaire founder Elon Musk’s long sought endeavor to turn the science fictionesque quest of rocket reusability into the scientific fact of reality.

“Thanks for the longstanding faith in SpaceX,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after today’s joint SES/SpaceX announcement.

“We very much look forward to doing this milestone flight with you.”

Elon Musk’s goal is to radically slash the cost of launching rockets and access to space via rocket recycling – in a way that will one day lead to his vision of a ‘City on Mars.’

Over just the past 8 months, SpaceX has successfully recovered 6 of the firms Falcon 9 first stage boosters intact – by land and by sea since December 2015 – in hopes of recycling and reusing them for paying customers daring enough to take the risk of stepping into the unknown!

SES is that daring company and repeatedly shown faith in SpaceX when they were the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX with SES=8 back in October 2013. Earlier this year the firm also launched SES-9 on the recently upgraded full thrust version of Falcon 9 in March 2016.

“Having been the first commercial satellite operator to launch with SpaceX back in 2013, we are excited to once again be the first customer to launch on SpaceX’s first ever mission using a flight-proven rocket. We believe reusable rockets will open up a new era of spaceflight, and make access to space more efficient in terms of cost and manifest management,” said Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES, in the statement.

“This new agreement reached with SpaceX once again illustrates the faith we have in their technical and operational expertise. The due diligence the SpaceX team has demonstrated throughout the design and testing of the SES-10 mission launch vehicle gives us full confidence that SpaceX is capable of launching our first SES satellite dedicated to Latin America into space.”

For the SES-10 launch, SpaceX plans to use the Falcon 9 booster that landed on an ocean going drone ship from NASA’s CRS-8 space station mission launched in April 2016, said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of Flight Reliability, to reporters recently at the Kennedy Space Center during NASA’s CRS-9 cargo launch to the ISS.

SpaceX has derived many lessons learned on how to maximize the chances for a successful rocket recovery, Koenigsmann explained to Universe Today at KSC when I asked for some insight.

“We learned a lot … from the landings,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX vice president of Flight Reliability, told Universe Today during the media briefings for the SpaceX CRS-9 space station cargo resupply launch on July 18.

“There are no structural changes first of all.”

“The key thing is to protect the engines- and make sure that they start up well [in space during reentry],” Koenigsmann elaborated, while they are in flight and “during reentry.”

“And in particular the hot trajectory, so to speak, like the ones that comes in after a fast payload, like the geo-transfer payload basically.”

“Those engines need to be protected so that they start up in the proper way. That’s something that we learned.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage is outfitted with four landing legs at the base and four grid fins at the top to conduct the landing attempts.

“In general I think the landing concept with the legs, and the number of burns and the way we perform those seems to work OK,” Koenigsmann told me.

“Re-launching a rocket that has already delivered spacecraft to orbit is an important milestone on the path to complete and rapid reusability,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX.

“SES has been a strong supporter of SpaceX’s approach to reusability over the years and we’re delighted that the first launch of a flight-proven rocket will carry SES-10.”

SES-10 will be the first SES satellite wholly dedicated to Latin America. .

“The satellite will provide coverage over Mexico, serve the Spanish speaking South America in one single beam, and cover Brazil with the ability to support off-shore oil and gas exploration,” according to SES.

It will replace ca[acity currently provided by two other satellites, namely AMC-3 and AMC-4, and will “provide enhanced coverage and significant capacity expansion over Latin America – including Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The high-powered, tailored and flexible beams will provide direct-to-home broadcasting, enterprise and mobility services.”

It is equipped with a Ku-band payload of 55 36MHz transponder equivalents, of which 27 are incremental. It will be stationed at 67 degrees West.

SES-10 was built by Airbus Defence and Space and is based on the Eurostar E3000 platform. Notably it will use “an electric plasma propulsion system for on-orbit manoeuvres and a chemical system for initial orbit raising and some on-orbit manoeuvres.”

The most recently SpaceX Falcon 9 booster to be recovered followed the dramatic overnight launch of the Japanese JCSAT-16 telecom satellite on Aug. 14.

It was towed back into port on atop the diminutive OCISLY ocean landing platform that measures only about 170 ft × 300 ft (52 m × 91 m). SpaceX formally dubs it an ‘Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship’ or ASDS.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post SES Boldly Goes Where No Firm Has Gone Before, Inks Deal to Fly on 1st SpaceX ‘Flight-Proven’ Booster appeared first on Universe Today.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Dazzles with Dramatic SES-9 Sunset Launch – Photo/Video Gallery

Ignition and liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 as umbilical’s fly away from rocket carrying SES-9 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on March 4, 2016. As seen from remote camera set near rocket on launch pad 40.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – SpaceX’s Falcon 9 finally put on a dazzling sky show after the commercial booster at last took flight on the fifth launch attempt, shortly after sunset on Friday, March 4, 2014.

Launches around sunset are often the most beautiful. And the coincident clear blue and darkening skies did not disappoint, affording photographers the opportunity to capture dramatic photos and videos with brilliant hues as the accelerating rocket sped skywards to sunlight.

The primary mission for the SpaceX Falcon 9 mission was to carry the SES-9 commercial communications satellite payload to orbit providing services used by everyone 24/7, such as cable TV, high speed internet, voice and data transmissions.

SES-9 is the largest satellite dedicated to serving the Asia-Pacific region for the Luxembourg based SES. With its payload of 81 high-powered Ku-band transponder equivalents, SES-9 will be the 7th SES satellite providing unparalleled coverage to over 20 countries in the region, says SES.

Enjoy the gorgeous and expanding collection of launch photos and videos herein from myself, colleagues and friends. The view was so clear that we could see the separation of the first and second stages, and opening and jettisoning of the payload fairing halves.

Strong high altitude winds, difficulties loading the super chilled liquid oxygen propellant and boaters who apparently ignored warnings forced a total of four postponements from the originally intended launch date nearly two weeks earlier on Tuesday Feb. 25, 2016.

But with a forecast of 90 percent GO weather and moderating upper altitude wind, the SpaceX Falcon 9 soared aloft right at the opening of the launch window.

See the ignition and liftoff and initial powerful puff of exhaust up close – from my remote launch pad 40 camera above as pyros fire and the umbilicals separate and fly away from rocket.

Here’s a pair of time lapse streak shots as the rocket arcs over eastwards to Africa:

Check out these pair of launch videos taken by Mobius wide angle remote cameras set up close around the SpaceX pad at Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.

https://youtu.be/N1cen99mBaM

Video caption: Sunset launch of the SES-9 communication satellite by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on March 4, 2016 from Pad 40 of the CCAFS. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

https://youtu.be/eP4IDKpCVPE

Video caption: Spectacular blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying SES-9 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL shortly after sunset at 6:35 p.m. EST on March 4, 2016. Up close movie captured by Mobius remote video camera placed at launch pad. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

This video is a focused up close view showing the umbilicals flying away moments after blastoff:

https://youtu.be/np6D2ySql90

Video caption: Time lapse, SpaceX Falcon 9 strong back and upper umbilical motion before and during the launch of the SES9 telecommunication satellite launch on March 4, 2016. Credit: Jeff Seibert/AmericaSpace

The SES-9 launch marked the second successful Falcon-9 launch in a row during 2016, and the first of this year from Cape Canaveral.

The Boeing built SES-9 satellite has a dry mass of 2,835 kg and a fueled mass of 5,271 kg. The huge satellite sports a wingspan of 48 meters with two solar wings. In addition each wing is outfitted with six additional solar panels on each wing.

Watch for Ken’s onsite launch reports direct from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post SpaceX Falcon 9 Dazzles with Dramatic SES-9 Sunset Launch – Photo/Video Gallery appeared first on Universe Today.

SpaceX Stuns with Spectacular Sunset Launch of SES-9 Telecom Satellite

Sunset blastoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying SES-9 communications satellite from Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.  Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – After enduring four launch scrubs caused by poor weather, misguided boaters, high level winds and propellant fueling problems, SpaceX put on a stunning sky show with tonight’s sunset blastoff of their private Falcon 9 rocket boosting the high powered SES-9 commercial telecommunications satellite to orbit.

For the many spectators who stuck around, the fifth launch attempt proved to be the charm as they were richly rewarded with a spectacular sunset launch that was visible for more than five minutes all around the space coast and far beyond due to crystal clear skies.

Liftoff of the Cape’s first Falcon 9 launch of 2016 took place without issue as all nine first stage Merlin engines ignited as planned at the opening of Friday nights launch window at 6:35 p.m. EST from SpaceX’s seaside Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

The two stage Falcon 9 carrying the 5,271 kg SES-9 satellite roared off the launch pad and soon arched over eastwards on its trail boost the satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).

Exquisitely symmetrical contrails blessed the sky and enveloped the rocket as it accelerated to space.

From my vantage point with the media on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station we could clearly see the stage separation and ignition of the second stage engine.

The SES-9 satellite was deployed approximately 31 minutes after liftoff and delivered to Geostationary Transfer Orbit.

“Target altitude of 40,600 km achieved,” tweeted SpaceX’s billionaire CEO and founder Elon Musk.

“Thanks @SES_Satellites for riding on Falcon 9! Looking forward to future missions.”

The commercial launch was contracted by the Luxembourg based SES, a world-leading satellite operator. SES provides satellite-enabled communications services to broadcasters, Internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, and business and governmental organizations worldwide using its fleet of more than 50 geostationary satellites.

SpaceX previously launched the SES-8 satellite for SES on Dec. 3, 2013.

The primary mission of the liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 was to carry the SES-9 payload to orbit.

SES-9 is the largest satellite dedicated to serving the Asia-Pacific region for SES.

With its payload of 81 high-powered Ku-band transponder equivalents, SES-9 will be the 7th SES satellite providing unparalleled coverage to over 20 countries in the region, according to SES.

The Boeing built SES-9 satellite has a dry mass of 2,835 kg and a fueled mass of 5,271 kg. The huge satellite sports a wingspan of 48 meters with two solar wings. In addition each wing is outfitted with six additional solar panels on each wing.

It is designed to operate for 15 years. It will be co-located with the SES-7 satellite at the prime orbital location of 108.2 degrees East.

The secondary test objective of SpaceX was to land the Falcon 9 rockets first stage on an ocean going barge about 300 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. Prior to launch, SpaceX officials were not optimistic about the chances of a successful landing.

The droneship barge was named “Of Course I Still Love You.”

Although SpaceX engineers were able to guide the first stage back to the barge, it made a hard landing and as expected it did not survive.

“Rocket landed hard on the droneship,” tweeted Musk soon after the results were known.

“Didn’t expect this one to work (v hot reentry), but next flight has a good chance.”

Watch for Ken’s onsite launch reports direct from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

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SpaceX Aims for Friday Sunset Launch After Boats and Winds Delay Falcon 9 Liftoff and Landing Attempt – Live Webcast

Sunset view of SpaceX Falcon 9 after aborted launch of SES-9 communications satellite on Feb 28, 2016.  Liffoff now slated for March 4, 2016 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL after four scrubs due to weather and technical issues. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Alas SpaceX is now targeting Friday March 4 for the 5th attempt to launch their upgraded Falcon 9 carrying the powerful SES-9 commercial telecommunications satellite, following another pair of launch scrubs earlier this week due to errant boats and strong winds aloft.

“We’re now targeting Friday, March 4 at 6:35 pm ET for launch of SES-9,” said SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson. Sunset is at 6:25 pm.

SpaceX hopes for a liftoff of the Cape’s first Falcon 9 launch of 2016 from SpaceX’s seaside Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. at the opening of a 91-minute launch window.

“The window extends to 8:06 pm ET.”

The weather prognosis looks very favorable. Air Force meteorologists are predicting a 90% percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time Friday evening.

The view, if all goes well, should be absolutely spectacular Falcon roars off the launch pad and thunders to space.

The only concern at this time is for cumulus clouds and upper-level winds.

“A stray shower may accompany a weak frontal boundary as it nears the Space Coast late Thursday night through mid-day Friday,” says the Air Force.

“The front should move through the Spaceport by Friday afternoon, bringing gusty northwest surface winds, which will weaken after sunset. Skies are also expected to clear behind the boundary with only a slight weather concern of lingering cumulus clouds. Maximum upper-level winds will be from the west at 100 knots at 37,000 feet.

A live webcast will be available at SpaceX.com/webcast beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff, at approximately 6:15 p.m. EST on Friday, March 4.

The fourth attempt to launch was scrubbed early on Tuesday afternoon, March 1, long before fueling of the rocket began, due to the threat of dangerous high altitude winds that could result in destruction of the rocket.

“Pushing launch to Friday due to extreme high altitude wind shear,” tweeted SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk.

“Hits like a sledgehammer when going up supersonic.”

Since strong high altitude winds were expected to persist for several days, the launch was postponed to Friday.

“Unfortunately upper-level winds continue to exceed acceptable limits and are expected to get worse as we approach tonight’s launch window, so we are forgoing today’s launch attempt,” Larson explained.

“Winds are forecast to exceed acceptable limits through Thursday. Our team will continue working with the Air Force’s Launch Weather Officer to evaluate the best available opportunity for flight in the coming days.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket came with a second of liftoff on Sunday, Feb 28 when the launch was aborted by a low-thrust alarm.

Watch this dramatic video view of the launch abort:

https://youtu.be/JcIzEySiIGw

Video credit: Alex Polimeni / Spaceflight Now

Watch for Ken’s onsite launch reports direct from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

………….

Learn more about SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, ULA Atlas rocket, Orbital ATK Cygnus, ISS, Boeing, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Mar 4: “SpaceX, ULA, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings

The post SpaceX Aims for Friday Sunset Launch After Boats and Winds Delay Falcon 9 Liftoff and Landing Attempt – Live Webcast appeared first on Universe Today.

SpaceX Resets Launch of Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket for Serene Sunday Sunset on Feb. 28 – Watch Live

Sunset view of SpaceX Falcon 9 awaiting launch of SES-9 communications satellite on Feb. 28, 2016 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL after two fueling scrubs. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Following a pair of back to back launch scrubs this week on Wednesday and Thursday due to rocket fueling issues with the liquid oxygen propellant, SpaceX has reset the blast off of their upgraded Falcon 9 rocket – carrying the commercial SES-9 television and communications satellite – to coincidentally coincide with a serene sunset on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Spectators have flocked to the Florida space coast in hopes of catching a glimpse of what could prove to be a spectacular evening streak to orbit after miserable mid-week weather finally departed the sunshine state in favor of glorious blue skies – to the delight of everyone!

SpaceX engineers are now targeting liftoff of the Cape’s first Falcon 9 launch of 2016 for 6:46 p.m. EST from SpaceX’s seaside Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. at the opening of a 97-minute launch window.

The first launch scrub on Wednesday was called some 45 minutes before launch.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the team opted to hold launch for today to ensure liquid oxygen temperatures are as cold as possible in an effort to maximize performance of the vehicle,” SpaceX said in a statement.”

The rocket and spacecraft were otherwise nominal.

“The Falcon 9 remains healthy in advance of SpaceX and SES’s mission to deliver the SES-9 satellite to Geostationary Transfer Orbit.”

The second scrub was called at 1 minute forty seconds before T zero when engineers were concerned about aspects of the liquid oxygen fuel loading and internal temperatures.

“Countdown held for the day. Teams are reviewing the data and next available launch date,” tweeted SpaceX post scrub.

SpaceX is cooling the liquid oxygen propellant in the upgraded Falcon 9 to lower temperatures compared to the rockets prior version, in order to increase its density and provide more fuel aboard the rocket for the engines to burn.

Both stages of the 229 foot tall Falcon 9 are fueled by liquid oxygen and RP-1kerosene which burn in the Merlin engines.

Air Force meteorologists are predicting an almost unheard of >95% percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time Sunday – which could result in an absolutely spectacular view as Falcon roars off the launch pad thunders to space, if all goes well.

The only potential concern at this time is for cumulus clouds associated with onshore flow.

A live webcast will be available at SpaceX.com/webcast beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff, at approximately 6:26 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 28.

The launch window closes at approximately 8:23 p.m. EST.

The weather prognosis changes only slightly to 90 percent GO on Monday, again with a concern for cumulus clouds.

If needed, SpaceX has a backup launch opportunity reserved on the Eastern range for Monday, Feb. 29 at approximately the same time at 6:46 p.m. EST.

The goal of Sunday’s launch is to boost the commercial SES-9 television and communications satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite will be deployed approximately 31 minutes after liftoff.

The commercial launch was contracted by the Luxembourg based SES, a world-leading satellite operator. SES provides satellite-enabled communications services to broadcasters, Internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, and business and governmental organizations worldwide using its fleet of more than 50 geostationary satellites.

Watch for Ken’s onsite launch reports direct from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

………….

Learn more about SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, ULA Atlas rocket, Orbital ATK Cygnus, ISS, Boeing, Space Taxis, Mars rovers, Orion, SLS, Antares, NASA missions and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events:

Feb 27/28: “SpaceX, ULA, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew, Curiosity explores Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings

The post SpaceX Resets Launch of Upgraded Falcon 9 Rocket for Serene Sunday Sunset on Feb. 28 – Watch Live appeared first on Universe Today.

SpaceX Set for 1st Cape Launch of 2016 with SES-9 on Feb. 24 after Smooth Static Fire Test – Watch Live

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with SES-8 communications satellite awaits launch from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL, file photo. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Final preparations are underway for SpaceX’s first launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral during 2016 with the commercial SES-9 television and communications satellite on Wednesday evening Feb. 24, following a smooth static fire engine test on Monday.

The 229 foot tall Falcon 9 is slated to lift off from SpaceX’s seaside Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. at 6:46 p.m. EST at the opening of a 97-minute launch window.

The launch window closes at approximately 8:23 p.m. EST.

The two stage Falcon 9 rocket will boost SES-9 to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite will be deployed approximately 31 minutes after liftoff.

The commercial launch was contracted by the Luxembourg based SES, a world-leading satellite operator. SES provides satellite-enabled communications services to broadcasters, Internet service providers, mobile and fixed network operators, and business and governmental organizations worldwide using its fleet of more than 50 geostationary satellites.

The successful full-duration static fire test of the Falcon 9 first stage engines clears the path to Wednesday’s launch of the Falcon 9 in a recently enhanced configuration with upgraded Merlin engines.

Following a full countdown demonstration and fueling of the Falcon 9 rocket erect at the pad, all nine first stage Merlin engines were briefly ignited for several seconds.

This marks only the second flight of this more powerful version of the SpaceX Falcon.

A live webcast will be available at SpaceX.com/webcast beginning about 20 minutes before liftoff, at approximately 6:26 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

If needed, SpaceX has a backup launch opportunity reserved on the Eastern range for Thursday, Feb. 25 at approximately the same time at 6:46 p.m. EST.

Air Force meteorologists are predicting a 60 percent chance of favorable weather conditions at launch time.

The main concerns are rain and winds.

The weather prognosis increases to 80 percent GO on Thursday.

SpaceX previously launched the SES-8 satellite for SES on Dec. 3, 2013.

The primary mission of the liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 is to carry the SES-9 payload to orbit.

SES-9 is the largest satellite dedicated to serving the Asia-Pacific region for SES.

With its payload of 81 high-powered Ku-band transponder equivalents, SES-9 will be the 7th SES satellite providing unparalleled coverage to over 20 countries in the region, according to SES.

The Boeing built SES-9 satellite has a dry mass of 2,835 kg and a fueled mass of 5,271 kg. The huge satellite sports a wingspan of 48 meters with two solar wings. In addition each wing is outfitted with six additional solar panels on each wing.

It is designed to operate for 15 years. It will be co-located with the SES-7 satellite at the prime orbital location of 108.2 degrees East.

The secondary test objective of SpaceX is to land the Falcon 9 rockets first stage on an ocean going barge about 300 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

The droneship barge is named “Of Course I Still Love You.”

SpaceX opfficials say they are not optimistic of a successful barge landing.

“Given this mission’s unique GTO profile, a successful landing is not expected.”

Three prior attempts to land on a barge off both US coasts came very close with pinpoint approaches to the vessel in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. But the rocket tipped over in the final moments and was destroyed.

Last December SpaceX did accomplish a dramatically successful propulsive soft landing on land for the first time in history at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 complex located a few miles south of launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral.

Watch for Ken’s onsite launch reports direct from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and planetary science and human spaceflight news.

Ken Kremer

The post SpaceX Set for 1st Cape Launch of 2016 with SES-9 on Feb. 24 after Smooth Static Fire Test – Watch Live appeared first on Universe Today.

SpaceX Sets Ambitious Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ Agenda with Dual December Blastoffs

SpaceX plans an ambitious ‘Return to Flight’ agenda with their Falcon 9 rocket comprising dual launches this coming December, nearly six months after their failed launch in June 2015 that culminated in the total mid-air loss of the rocket and NASA cargo bound for the crew aboard International Space Station (ISS). The double barreled salvo […]