SpaceX Places SES-8 into Geostationary Orbit

On Dec. 3 Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully delivered the SES-8 satellite to its targeted 295 x 80,000 kilometer geostationary transfer orbit after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

SES-8 carries 24 active Ku-band transponders, each with 36 or 54 MHz capacity and switchable among 33 channels with two beams. Certain channels in each beam are cross-strapped to multiple frequency bands. SES-8 weights approximately 3,200 kg and has a mission life of 15 years. It will serve South Asia and Southeast Asia from 85 degrees east longitude.

SpaceX will provide competition to existing launch service companies. A BBC News article SpaceX launches SES commercial TV satellite for Asia by Jonathan Amos noted, “The commercial market for launching telecoms spacecraft is tightly contested, but has become dominated by just a few companies--notably, Europe's Arianespace, which flies the Ariane 5, and International Launch Services (ILS), which markets Russia's Proton vehicle. SpaceX is promising to substantially undercut the existing players on price, and SES, the world's second-largest telecoms satellite operator, believes the incumbents had better take note of the California company's capability.”

Elon Musk, CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX said, “The successful insertion of the SES-8 satellite confirms the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle delivers to the industry’s highest performance standards. As always, SpaceX remains committed to delivering the safest, most reliable launch vehicles on the market today. We appreciate SES’s early confidence in SpaceX and look forward to launching additional SES satellites in the years to come.”

The SpaceX press release said, “This launch also marks the second of three certification flights needed to certify the Falcon 9 to fly missions for the U.S. Air Force under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. When Falcon 9 is certified, SpaceX will be eligible to compete for all National Security Space (NSS) missions.”

U.S. Air Force Airmen supported the SES-8 launch, providing weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, medical and public affairs support. The 45th Space Wing and mission partners also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry, optical and communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch.

Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander of the 45th Space Wing and launch decision authority for the mission commented: “For the second time in a little more than two weeks, the 45th Space Wing and our mission partners have worked together to ensure another successful launch here on the Eastern Range. It's gratifying to see a varied, high-performing team like this come together time and time-again. We are truly grateful for the outstanding space team we have here on the space coast.”

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.