Luxembourg’s Grand Duke, Prince Guillaume and his wife Stephanie, were at Cape Canaveral Wednesday evening, along with Luxembourg’s prime minister Xavier Bettel, to watch SpaceX’s flawless launch of GovSat-1 (also known as SES-16) aboard a previously flown (“flight tested”) Falcon 9 rocket.
Lift-off from the Cape’s Launch Complex 40 took place at 16:25 Eastern Time (21:25 UTC). Amazingly, the booster reportedly survived a water landing, despite the return not involving the usual SpaceX drone ship.
GovSat-1 will now transition from its launch orbit to transfer to 21.5 degrees East, providing coverage of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas.
The satellite is a joint-venture between SES and the Luxembourg government, and carries a military payload which will enable critical communications for NATO in theatres of operations, interconnect key institutional or defence sites, and support applications such as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and communications on the move, among others.
Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said, “Luxembourg has always been a pioneer in the space industry and has a long tradition in innovative partnerships with private aerospace companies. The launch of GovSat-1 is the beginning of a new space experience for Luxembourg, after the foundation of SES in 1985 and the launch of the first SES satellite nearly 30 years ago. GovSat and the launch of GovSat-1 is another step towards strengthening the position of Luxembourg as a key player in the aerospace sector, and contributes to a diversification of our economy.”
The next SpaceX launch will be of its Falcon ‘Heavy’ rocket expected around February 6th.