SES-12 launch success
June 4, 2018
By Colin Mann and Chris Forrester
Satellite operator SES has confirmed that its SES-12 craft was successfully launched onboard a ‘flight-proven’ SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US, at 00:45 local time.
SES-12, which is uniquely designed with state-of-the-art wide beams and high throughput beams, will join SES-8 at 95 degrees East to meet the diverse needs of video, fixed data, mobility and government customers across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
SES-12 is the latest satellite that SES has launched to that orbital position where it will operate under the authority of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It will replace and augment the services currently being provided on SES’s NSS-6 satellite. SES-12 is a replacement for NSS-6 (New Skies Satellite-6) which was launched back in December 2002. SES acquired Dutch-based New Skies in 2005. SES-12 is more powerful than NSS-6: carrying sixty-eight Ku-band transponders – including both spot beams and wide beams – to its predecessor’s fifty. It is also equipped with eight Ka-band transponders.
Together with SES-8, SES-12 will reach 18 million TV homes from its orbital position. According to SES, the satellites will provide pay-TV operators the reliability and scalability to elevate viewing experiences by adding more content and delivering higher-quality picture quality to address the ever-increasing audience demand for HD and Ultra HD content.
As with SES-14 and SES-15, which serve the Americas, the SES-12 high throughput payload is SES’s solution for enhancing connectivity in the aeronautical and maritime segments across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. SES-12 will also be pivotal in enabling governments to provide connectivity programmes to bridge the digital divide, and in allowing telcos, mobile network operators and internet service providers to deliver more reliable cellular backhaul and faster broadband services.
“More content. More immersive viewing experience. Blazing Internet speeds. Reliable cell coverage,” declared Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer at SES said. “All of these dynamic customer requirements can now be met with the successful launch of SES-12, which will provide incremental high performance capacity and offer greater reliability and flexibility to our customers.”
With six wide beams and 72 high throughput user spot beams, SES-12 is one of the largest geostationary satellites that SES has ever launched. The spacecraft also has a Digital Transparent Processor (DTP) that increases payload flexibility to provide much more customisable bandwidth solutions to SES’s customers. The all-electric SES-12 spacecraft was built by Airbus Defence and Space, and will rely on electric propulsion for orbit raising and subsequent in-orbit manoeuvres. SES-12 will join SES’s network of seven geostationary satellites and 16 MEO satellites across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
No attempt was made to recover the pre—flown first stage.
For SpaceX it was the 11th launch of the year. Airbus Defence & Space and the satellite will use its on-board electric thrusters to raise itself from its transfer orbit to its final operating slot. This process is expected to last about four-to-six months. SES-12 is designed for an operational life of some 15 years.
SES-8, launched in December 2013, and was also launched by SpaceX and was the rocket company’s first geostationary launch, and also the first communications satellite to use a Falcon 9 rocket.
Following separation from the launcher, the most powerful all-electric satellite ever has completed its initialization phase and has started its electric orbit raising (EOR) operations as planned.
SES-12 is the third all-electric satellite built by Airbus in orbit. Its communications payload incorporates state-of-the-art solutions, in particular multi-beam antennas linked to a digital signal processor, which enable a multitude of basic spectral channels to be allocated to various beams in a completely flexible manner.
“Airbus salutes SES’s ambitions regarding innovation and responsiveness in a rapidly changing market and we acknowledge their strong support for all-electric satellite technology,” said Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Space Systems. “We have been using electric propulsion for station-keeping for more than a decade and have now in orbit three Eurostar E3000 satellites equipped with the EOR technology. The Airbus team has now started SES-12 Electric Orbit Raising (EOR) operations.”