Despite risks, SES readies for Falcon-9 launch

There may still be questions over a less than perfect demonstration flight of the SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket on Sept 29 but nevertheless SES has shipped its huge SES-8 satellite to Florida in readiness for its launch. SES-8 was transported by truck from its manufacturing site at Orbital Sciences in Dulles, Virginia, to SpaceX’s processing site at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Industry sources suggest that a problem with Falcon-9’s final stage when it failed to re-start for its final burn has created anxieties for SES-8’s insurers. If the same problem occurs then it would represent a major insurance headache in terms of cover and compensation. It is vital that the rocket’s engine re-starts for a final burn in order to place the satellite into its correct transfer orbit. SES has reportedly insured its satellite for $200 million, and paid an insurance premium of around $24 million.

SES has already said that it is waiting for more data from SpaceX, and its CEO Elon Musk told journalists in Florida that they had plenty of data covering the problem launch. However, SES’ insurers have submitted a list of questions for SpaceX to answer.

The earliest launch date for Falcon-9 will now be Nov 1st, although this date could easily slip if major remedial work on the rocket is needed.

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