A Soyuz rocket, part of the Arianespace fleet, successfully launched SES-15 from French Guiana on time (at 07.42 EDT) May 18th and from where it will start its slow but steady journey to its orbital slot.
The ‘slow but steady’ explanation does not apply to the actual launch which was flawless and saw the spacecraft take barely 7 minutes to travel 1020 kms downrange and ahead of a 4.5 hour (at lift-off + 25 minutes) coast to a maximum altitude of some 31,300 kms and from where it would then see another engine burn which would take the satellite to its preliminary (sub-geostationary) transfer orbit and deployment of the satellite.
SES-15 is the 40th satellite launched by Arianespace for SES, and it marks this long-time customer’s first use of the Soyuz from French Guiana.
The ‘slow but steady’ reference is because the satellite will do its final orbit raising via its own on-board electric thrusters. These will gradually – over some 5 months – lift the satellite to its 129 degrees West operating position where, after testing, it will serve coverage over North America, Mexico and Central America, stretching from Arctic Alaska to the South of Panama and from Hawaii to the Caribbean.
SES says that thanks to its extensive coverage, SES-15 will be the first satellite to enable airline passengers to access full, seamless HTS coverage from New York all the way to Hawaii – or from Alaska to Mexico. SES-15 is also equipped with a dedicated wide beam that will allow IFEC providers to provide live broadcast of TV content on all flight routes across the entire region. This unique combination of beams enables IFEC providers to optimally utilise High Throughput capacity for internet traffic and wide beam coverage for broadcasting content.