SES/EchoStar back ‘pre-flown’ SpaceX

SpaceX technicians at Cape Canaveral are patiently waiting for a scheduled Atlas-5 rocket to launch a military satellite into orbit on September 27. A few days later, weather permitting, SpaceX will take centre stage for a mission for two clients, SES and EchoStar, and their joint-venture SES-11/EchoStar 105 satellite. The satellite will make use of one of SpaceX ‘flight tested’ rockets.

Reportedly, this is a change of plan for SpaceX and its clients, which had previously expected to use an ‘all new’ rocket. The planned mission will now use a rocket first stage that first flew on February 19 and which on that occasion was used to take a re-supply cargo mission to the International Space Station. That particular first stage successfully landed back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.

The new ‘condominium’ satellite will operate from 105 degrees West. EchoStar will use its portion of the satellite – 24 transponders – to continue serving viewers to DISH Network’s transmissions. SES will use its portion of the satellite’s capacity – its C-Band transponders – for data and video distribution.

SES was the first commercial operator to use a ‘pre-flown’ SpaceX first stage when it flew its SES-10 satellite on March 10, which was also recovered by SpaceX.

SES has another two satellites booked for flights with SpaceX: SES-14 and SES 16. SES-16 is likely to be the first to fly, later this year, while SES-14 will launch next year.

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