It hasn’t been a good week for satellite operator SES of Luxembourg. On November 13th it announced that its upcoming Astra 5B craft would have to wait until January for launch by Arianespace. Now, barely 24 hours later it has been confirmed that its SES-8 communications satellite is also to be delayed.
SES-8 is being launched by billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX Corp, a new rocket launcher. SpaceX will use its Falcon–9 rocket assembly and the SES-8 is the first commercial satellite operator to use the system on its maiden flight to a geostationary transfer orbit. It had been planned to launch next week on November 22nd. SpaceX confirmed November 13th that the date will now slip to November 25th.
The Falcon-9 is the latest version of the company’s nine-engine Falcon 9 rocket, and made its debut flight on Sept 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base when it launched the Canadian Space Agency’s Cassiope space-weather satellite. However, on that flight, the Falcon 9’s upper stage failed to reignite. To place the SES-8 into geostationary transfer orbit that upper stage must ignite.
Following on from the SES-8 launch the next customer is already standing in line in the shape of Thailand’s Thaicom-6, which is due for launch on December 20th.