The much delayed launch of the SES-9 satellite is now being “targeted” for late February, according to the satellite operator. The spacecraft is due to be launch by SpaceX, currently scheduled for February 24th and with a back-up date of February 25th.
“This date was mutually set by SES and the launch operator for SES-9, SpaceX, the Hawthorne, California based company that designs, manufactures and launches the Falcon 9 rocket and other spacecraft. SpaceX is currently completing an extended series of testing and pre-flight validation in advance of the SES-9 launch, which will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida,” says a SES statement.
Importantly, SpaceX is modifying the rocket and will see the satellite get into orbit speedier than first envisioned. “The changed mission will reduce the time needed for SES-9 to reach its orbital slot, keeping the Operational Service Date (OSD) in the third quarter of 2016, as previously foreseen,” stated SES.
SES will be co-located at 108.2 degrees East and operate alongside SES-7. SES–9 will use a chemical bi-propellant apogee motor to quickly achieve a 24h synchronous orbit and then electric propulsion to circularise the final orbit. Subsequent on-orbit manoeuvres will be executed with electric propulsion.
Originally the SES-9 satellite was ready and due for launch last September and subject to numerous subsequent delays