SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully orbited the EchoStar XXIII to Geostationary Transfer Orbit this morning, marking the company’s second flight from historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Following a slight delay during the countdown, Falcon 9 lifted off at 2:00 a.m. EDT to begin its middle of the night climb to orbit.
Originally scheduled for a window that opened at 1:34 a.m. EDT on March 14, the launch was delayed two days due to unacceptably strong upper level winds over Florida.
After a 36-minute delay on Thursday, the vehicle lifted off at 2:00 a.m. and quickly raced away from its launch pad. One minute and sixteen seconds after launch, the rocket reached Max Q, or the point during ascent where the aerodynamic stresses on the vehicle are greatest. The nine Merlin 1D engines shut down a minute and 27 seconds later and separated from the Falcon’s second stage, which ignited after a short 12-second coast period to take EchoStar XXIII to a preliminary orbit 8 and a half minutes after launch.
The second stage, powered by a single Merlin 1D Vacuum engine, shut down 27 minutes, 19 seconds after liftoff and, following a nearly 7 minute coast, released the EchoStar satellite at approximately T+34 minutes.
SpaceX did not attempt to land Falcon 9’s first stage after launch due to mission requirements that did not allow enough propellant reserve to conduct a powered landing at sea or Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.
EchoStar XXIII is a highly flexible, Ku-band broadcast satellite services (BSS) satellite with four main reflectors and multiple sub-reflectors supporting multiple mission profiles. Initial commercial deployment of EchoStar XXIII will be at 45 degrees West, and the Satellite End of Life power is 20 kilowatts.
Once operational, EchoStar XXIII will operate under a Brazilian government license to deliver direct-broadcast television services via its Ku-Band payload as well as offer data and networking services via the satellite’s Ka and S-Band capabilities.
Like most communications satellites, EchoStar XXIII is equipped with a chemical propulsion system for normal maneuvers station-keeping. It has a single primary apogee engine complemented by secondary attitude control thrusters.
The satellite has been designed for a service life of 15 years. However, in addition to the chemical propulsion system, it is equipped with electric propulsion that could extend the satellite’s lifetime for a number of years longer. Four SPT-100 Stationary Plasma Thrusters are installed on the satellite each delivering a thrust of 83 Milli-Newtons.
EchoStar operates the world’s fourth-largest commercial geosynchronous fleet, with 25 satellites. Headquartered in Englewood, Colorado and conducting business around the globe, EchoStar is a pioneer in secure communications technologies through its EchoStar Satellite Services, EchoStar Technologies and Hughes Network Systems business segments.
EchoStar Satellite Services is an industry-leading provider of satellite communications solutions, video distribution, data communications and backhaul services to meet the needs of media and broadcast organizations, direct-to-home providers, enterprise customers and government service providers.
Matthew Travis / Zero-G News
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