Advanced Television

SES-20, SES-21 prepare for launch

October 4, 2022

By Chris Forrester

Hurricane Ian has moved away from the Cape Canaveral launch facilities, and if no other weather events happen then the United Launch Alliance (ULA) should be able to launch SES-20 and SES-21 into orbit later today [October 4th].

ULA plans to use one of its Atlas rockets at 5.36 pm EDT to loft the two satellites into their geosynchronous transfer orbits. The satellites are all-electric and will take some months to reach their orbital positions.

However, as the weather experts caution there’s still plenty of weather that could throw up headaches for the launch experts.

SES-20 and SES-21 are a pair of satellites which were part of the overall C-band agreement with the FCC. SES (and Intelsat) handed back 300 MHz of frequencies to the FCC as part of the FCC’s plan for 5G migration in the US.

SES, using a Thales Alenia craft, has already started replacing its C-band fleet. Back in June SpaceX launched SES-22 into orbit to the 135 degrees West slot. SES will launch five C-band satellites overall (SES-18, SES-19, SES-20, SES-21 and SES-22).

These latest two Boeing-built satellites will be used to transmit TV channels and data to some 120 million viewers and users in the US. They are the 14th and 15th satellites to be built by Boeing for SES.

The successful launch of SES-20/21 will leave just two other satellites for launch (SES-18 and SES-19) which are being built be Northrop Grumman.

When the five craft are in position SES will qualify for its compensation payment from the FCC.

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