Advanced Television

SES-18 and 19 readied for launch

February 21, 2023

The SES-18 and 19 satellites have left Northrop Grumman’s facility near Dulles airport in Washington DC and are headed to Florida for a launch date with SpaceX.

These pair of satellites are the last in the overall six-craft mission for SES to replace orbital assets following on from the freeing up of C-band frequencies for 5G repurposing by the FCC. Launch, subject to the usual weather considerations, is expected around March 8th-9th.

To meet the FCC’s deadline of clearing C-band spectrum across the US, SES ordered six satellites to provide the necessary capacity for its existing customers. SES-22, SES-20 and SES-21, were successfully launched respectively in June and October 2022. SES-18 and SES-19 will be launched so that they can enable the broadcast delivery of digital television to nearly 120 million TV homes as well as provide critical data services. The satellites are primarily designed and intended to carry the C-band services SES currently offers in the contiguous US (CONUS) that will transition from the lower 300 MHz to the upper 200 MHz of C-band spectrum.

Thales Alenia Space built SES-22 and SES-23. SES-22 was successfully launched by SpaceX on June 29th last year to 135 degrees West and operational in early August 2022.

SES-23, which is still under construction, is a ground spare to mitigate the risk of a potential launch or deployment failure affecting SES-18 and SES-19.

Boeing built SES-20 and 21 and which were successfully launched by United Launch Alliance in October last year and operational in November 2022.

Finalising the C-band mission means that SES is fully qualified to receive its final pay-out from the FCC for giving up the C-band frequencies. The payment is due sometime after December 5th this year. The overall pay-out is $9.7 billion shared between Intelsat and SES. SES has a legal action running against Intelsat for a 50/50 division of the FCC’s award.

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