Amidst continuing confusion over a recent SpaceX launch (of the top-secret ZUMA satellite) and where the satellite was lost, SES has come out firmly in favour of SpaceX.
SES, which is due to see its SES-16/GovSat launched on January 30th by SpaceX, tweeted that it was perfectly happy with the way SpaceX performed, saying “Following Zuma mission, our engineering staff have reviewed all relevant launch vehicle flight data following last Falcon-9 launcher mission. We are confident on SpaceX readiness & set for Govsat-1 launch late January.”
Last week, the US government House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing on NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, and which kicked off with questions about ZUMA and heard SpaceX’s VP for build/reliability Hans Koenigsmann repeating the company’s formal stance that the rocket performed as was expected, and adding that SpaceX was now readying for the SES and other launches.
SES-16 has two roles. First it will go to 21.5 degrees East and perform its normal DTH transmissions and serving Europe, the Middle East, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions and sub-Saharan Africa.
But it also has a special military payload, owned in a joint-venture between SES and Luxembourg and dubbed GovSat-1. This portion of the satellite carries special Ka-band and X-band (government and military) frequencies. It carries sophisticated anti-jamming equipment as well as encrypted command and control security. It will operate from 50 degrees West to 90 degrees East.