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SES’s CTO Martin Halliwell says that the operator’s upcoming – and long-delayed – launch SES-9 is not now likely to take place before mid-November, and it could even be later although he said he fully expected the launch to happen this year. Halliwell was speaking at the Euroconsult satellite conference in Paris.
SES-9 is an all-electric satellite and its lower weight allows it to be carried on a SpaceX rocket. However, all launches by SpaceX have been suspended following a June 28th launch failure. SES-9 was originally scheduled for the debut launch of an enhanced Falcon-9 rocket which has a more powerful engine, and had expected and planned for its launch in June.
The Falcon-9 ‘heavy’ has a 30 per cent more powerful suite of engines and designed to lift the satellite into its transfer orbit when the Ion thrusters take over and continue the journey – slowly – to orbit.
SES-9 will carry 53 transponders, but will take around 6 months to reach orbit. The delays have affected this year’s anticipated revenues at SES and now it seems it is unlikely that SES will see any income from SES-9 until mid-2016. Normally a satellite reaches orbit and then has a brief period of on-orbit testing prior to being brought into use.
The post-launch plan for SpaceX is to bring the rocket back to a floating barge, and successfully land for re-use sometime in the future. To date, and despite at least one near-perfect attempt, the landings have not been successful.