Working to build a steady launch pace and shake off the impression that its rockets tend to scrub as often as they fly, today SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 on time on its first launch attempt. The milestone mission to deliver two communications satellites on the same vehicle blasted off in the foggy night at 10:49 pm EST from Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida, beginning the 35 minute climb to geostationary transfer orbit and release of the European and Asian spacecraft.
“Both satellites deployed on target,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter. “Now firing their ion thrusters to reach geo station over Europe & Asia.”
The launch marked the 16th successful flight in a row for Falcon 9, which has not failed since its first launch in 2010..
Speaking from Cape Canaveral, Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat Chairman and CEO, said “We are delighted to see EUTELSAT 115 West B on its way into space and thank SpaceX for this successful launch. With this satellite we are trailblazing a new era of electric propulsion for orbit raising that opens opportunities for greater efficiency and higher competitivity. It’s another first in Eutelsat’s 30-year track record of innovation that propels our industry onto the next stage.”
“The EUTELSAT 115 West B satellite will transform the service we can offer clients delivering data services that include broadband, cellular backhaul, VSAT solutions and social connectivity,” remarked Patricio Northland, CEO of Eutelsat Americas. “In addition to delivering high-performance C and Ku-band capacity, our footprint will extend beyond Latin American markets into Canada and Alaska. Tonight’s launch reaffirms us more than ever as the satellite company of reference for the Americas.”
Using electric propulsion for in-orbit raising, EUTELSAT 115 West B will enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015. EUTELSAT 115 West B will extend reach of the Americas to markets in Alaska and Canada, replacing the EUTELSAT 115 West A satellite that operates in inclined orbit at 114.9° West.
It will be followed into orbit later this year by the all-electric EUTELSAT 117 West B satellite that will be located at 117° West to boost capacity for Latin America broadcast markets.
Equipped with 12 C-band and 34 Ku-band transponders connected to four service areas, EUTELSAT 115 West B will extend reach of the Americas to markets in Alaska and Canada, replacing the EUTELSAT 115 West A satellite that operates in inclined orbit at 114.9° West. The new satellite will focus in particular on serving clients providing data services, including broadband access, cellular backhaul, VSAT solutions and social connectivity.
Patricio Northland, CEO of Eutelsat Americas, said: “The launch of the next-generation EUTELSAT 115 West B satellite is a milestone that will position us as a major satellite operator across the continent. It will transform the 114.9° West orbital position that is already a neighbourhood of choice for fast-growing high-speed data and mobility markets in North and South America.”
The third pillar in Eutelsat’s expansion in the Americas will be EUTELSAT 65 West A that is scheduled for launch in 2016 in advance of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It will feature high-power coverage of Brazil and Latin America in C, Ku and Ka-bands.
Over the coming three days EUTELSAT 115 West B’s electric propulsion system will be prepared for orbit-raising that is scheduled to commence on 7 March and last for approximately eight months. Following this timeline, the satellite will undergo performance tests prior to commercial entry into service in November 2015.
The satellite will be followed into orbit later this year by the all-electric EUTELSAT 117 West B satellite that will be located at 117° West to boost capacity for Latin America broadcast markets. The third pillar in Eutelsat’s expansion in the Americas will be EUTELSAT 65 West A that is scheduled for launch in 2016 in advance of the Olympic Games in Brazil. It will feature high-power coverage of Brazil and Latin America in C, Ku and Ka-bands.
Owned by Asia Broadcast Satellite, ABS-3A will distribute television programming, Internet and mobile phone connectivity, and maritime services across the Americas, Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Asia Broadcast Satellite of Bermuda and Hong Kong.
ABS-3A is equipped with 48 x 72 MHz C & Ku-band transponders and will offer expanded communications and broadcast capacity connecting the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa at 3°W.
“We have always called upon the industry to be more cost effective to better compete with other alternatives. Now we are showing our lead to the industry. We have not only ordered two all-electric propulsion satellites, but also collaborated with Eutelsat to obtain a volume discount as our two satellites are part of a four satellite, two launch multi-party agreement we have negotiated with Boeing and SpaceX respectively,” said Tom Choi, CEO of ABS.
“We would like to thank both SpaceX and Boeing for their collaboration for delivering today’s successful launch. With ABS-3A innovative design and capability, we will be able to provide our customers with the most attractive rates and flexible service offerings in the market.”
The satellites, built by Boeing, use all-electric xenon-ion propulsion, generating thrust by firing pulses of charged particles and making it feasible to fit both on a single Falcon 9 and removing the need for weighty Hydrazine.
The xenon-ion propulsion system is called XIPS (pronounced “zips”) and produces more than 11,000 invisible beams of positive xenon ions, ejected at nearly 63,000 mph.
“ABS chose to place its trust in Boeing by being one of the first customers to order the 702SP all-electric propulsion satellite,” said Mark Spiwak, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc. “Boeing is proud to provide this innovative, industry leading capability to ABS in support of their growing business needs.”
“We are the first aerospace company to develop this highly efficient and flexible all-electric satellite, and we completed the first two 702SPs less than three years after contract award,” said Spiwak.
“With more than 210,000 hours of on-orbit experience with electric propulsion, we recognized that this highly efficient, lighter weight propulsion system would translate into cost savings for our customers,” he said.
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