June 29 at 5:04 pm E.T. from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
This evening SpaceX has sent up its first satellite in over a week now. A C-Band satellite dedicated to freeing up the lower 300 Mhz of the spectrum, enabling wireless operators to deploy 5G services across the United States. Built by Thales Alenia Space, SES-22 is expected to start operations by Early August of this year. Operating in the 135 degrees West orbital slot this satellite will deliver TV and radio to millions of homes and provide other critical data transmission services.
This launch comes as a part of a much broader FCC program to clear a portion of the C-ban spectrum to enable wireless operators to deploy 5G services across the U.S. In order to meet the FCC’s deadline SES has ordered six satellites to provide the needed capacity to their existing customers.
Over the past several months SES has been working with U.S. businesses across the country and investing the America in the C-band transition plan, using SpaceX along the way. Over the past seven years they have launched six satellites together, building a deep and trusting relationship having been the first to launch a satellite with SpaceX and also the first to adopt the flight proven booster reuse.
Though they may have been the first to fly with a reused booster, they certainly haven’t been the only, including today’s launch there have now been ninety-nine re-flown Falcon 9 booster flights. Today’s Falcon 9 booster has only flown once previously, back in May of this year on the Starlink 4-15 launch where SpaceX sent up a batch of fifty-three of their internet communications satellites. After stage separation this first stage came back down to land safely onboard the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was positions about 666km out in the Atlantic Ocean. Also supporting the mission is their recovery ship Doug, which will retrieve the fairing halves out of the ocean and continue to support the booster recovery operations as well during the trip back to Cape Canaveral.
Today’s launch comes ahead of a ULA (United Launch Alliance) mission for the United States Space Force as tomorrow they launch a mission carrying to payloads for our defense department. Both launch forecasts had questionable favorability for acceptable conditions but there were no issues today. Though light rain scattered the surrounding area, and heavy cloud coverage was moving in, SpaceX once again found the space they needed to reach orbit. This mission had a two-hour launch window for when they could ignite the nine Merlin 1D engines, but SpaceX decided to go right at the opening of the window, a smart choice as it would seem.