SES chooses ULA & SpaceX for C-band launches

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SES has made its decision for the upcoming launches for five of its planned C-band satellites. It has chosen the United Launch Alliance (ULA) to place two of its C-band satellites into orbit in 2022, whilst SpaceX gets an order for the launch of three C-band satellites.

The ULA will use one of its giant Atlas V rockets to place two satellites into orbit, carrying both craft in a stacked configuration on a single launch.

The SpaceX order covers the use of Falcon 9 rockets which will handle two Northrop Grumman-built satellites. SpaceX will also handle what SES describes as a “contingency satellite” to be launched in 2022.

Earlier this year, SES contracted with American companies Northrop Grumman and the Boeing Company to deliver four C-band satellites. These satellites will enable SES to clear 280MHz of mid-band spectrum for 5G use while seamlessly migrating SES’s existing C-band customers and ensuring the continued delivery of digital television to nearly 120 million American TV homes and other critical data services. ULA will launch the two C-band satellites manufactured by Boeing.

These two initial satellites are just a portion of the SES commitment to C-band which officially totals four craft.

“Clearing mid-band spectrum expeditiously while protecting cable neighborhoods across America is a huge undertaking and one that requires partners that can deliver mission success and schedule assurance,” said Steve Collar, CEO/SES. “We are thrilled to be working with ULA again and partnering to meet the FCC’s ambitious timeline for the accelerated clearing of C-band spectrum.”

Collar added: “In the last few months, SES has been increasingly working with US businesses across the country and investing in America in the C-band transition plan, and its long-standing relationship with SpaceX signifies its latest commitment to the US. SpaceX has launched six SES satellites in the last seven years.

“We are pleased SES selected ULA and our proven Atlas V for this important commercial launch service,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president/CEO. “Atlas V is known for its unmatched level of schedule certainty and reliability and this launch is critical to the timely clearing of C-band spectrum, empowering America’s accelerated implementation of 5G.  ULA’s legacy of performance, precision and mission design flexibility allow us to deliver a tailored launch service that minimises orbit raising time and perfectly meet our customer’s requirements. We are thrilled to provide this optimised launch solution to SES for this crucial launch.”

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell noted: “SES is one of SpaceX‘s most-valued partners, and we are proud of their continued trust in our capabilities to reliably deliver their satellites to orbit. We are excited to once again play a role in executing SES’s solutions to meet their customers’ needs.”

More information might emerge from the SES half-year results which will be announced on August 7th.


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