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Two O3b satellites safely launched

November 13, 2023

By Chris Forrester

A SpaceX rocket has launched two O3b/mPOWER satellites into their transfer orbit for SES.

The launch, shortly after 4pm Florida time on November 12th, took the mPOWER 5 and 6 on their way to a mid-Earth orbit at 8,000 kms in altitude. Signals were received after launch which indicate that all was well, however further tests will now take place during the upcoming weeks while they journey to their correct orbital positions.

They will arrive at their positions in Q1 next year. SES says it hopes to start using the two new craft by about April 2024.

This third pair of satellites leaves another seven to be launched (7 & 8, 9 & 10 and 11, 12 and 13). The mPOWER 12 and 13 satellites are extra to the initial plan because the existing fleet (satellites 1 to 6) are suffering power problems which will shorten their in-orbit lives.

Consequently, the Boeing-built fleet will have two extra craft supplied to help compensate for the problems on the initial six satellites.

The next two (mPOWER 7 and 8) will not now launch until Q2 2024 (and thus some 6-9 months later than expected) with 9-11 launching in 2025 and 12 and 13 in 2026. All of these later satellites will have power modifications.

“With the fifth and sixth O3b mPOWER satellites launched and going operational in the next few months, we are gearing up to deliver the high-performance connectivity services our customers need. By building resiliency into the network, we are confident our customers will be able to depend on us to deliver the reliable and secure connectivity required to run their operations,” said Ruy Pinto, CEO of SES.

He added: “Fantastic to see two more O3bm/POWER satellites successfully launched! I’m immensely grateful to the SES Satellites team and our partners for their passion and commitment. Congratulations to us all on this exciting milestone.”

As for the SpaceX launch the booster rocket used in the launch was used on its 9th mission. It also meant 171 successive landings in a row for this orbital-class rocket.

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