SpaceX launches third rocket in single week

October 9 at 7:05 pm E.T. from SLC-40 at Canaveral Space Force Station

With a crewed launch from Florida and a Starlink mission from California SpaceX closes out a busy week launching again, this time with a record tying fourteenth flight of a Falcon 9 rocket booster. B1060 has now launched and landed fourteen times successfully, also marking the first time a commercial customer has had a payload fly on a booster with this many previous flights.

Photo by: Kyle Montgomery – NHS

Flying inside the payload fairings tonight were two satellites, Galaxy-33 & Galaxy-34. Both built by Northrop Grumman for Intelsat. They will operate in the upper portion of the C-band spectrum which is a range of wireless frequencies used for telecommunications and data connection around the world. Supported by the FCC (Federal Communications Commision) and their plan to use the lower portion of the C-band Spectrum available for cellular service providers for the continuation of the 5G services rollout across the United States. So, moving the traditional C-band communications to the upper portions of the spectrum, the FCC is clearing out the 3.7 through 4.2 GHz bands which will then be auctioned off to the wireless network providers. The FCC has issued that these ranges must be clear as of December 5, 2023.

Infographic by Rykllan

The two satellites launched on top of booster B1060, which ties the record for the most-flown booster in SpaceX’s fleet, numbering 14. This was also the first time a commercial payload flew on a booster with that many flights under its belt. The booster previously supported GPS-III-SV03, Türksat-5A, Transporter-2, as well as 10 different Starlink missions.

Photo by: Matt Cutshall – NHS

Galaxy-33 or G-33 will replace the Galaxy-15 satellite which launched in October of 2005 from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. Placed in a geosynchronous orbit, Intelsat officials said the satellite would not respond to commands in April of 2010. Control was once again regained in December of the same year after allowing the batteries to fully discharge after an emergency command patch. G-33 will be placed into a geostationary orbit of 133 degrees West longitude, while G-34 will park in a geostationary orbit at a longitude of 129 degrees. With a lifespan of fifteen years, they should last until well after the currently technology is rendered obsolete.

With an already blistering pace, this ups the SpaceX launch total to forty-six flights for the year so far, and tonight marks the one-hundred-forty-fifth overall landing of a Falcon 9 booster. Impressive considering this was only the one-hundred-eightieth launch of a Falcon 9 rocket. It also marks the seventy-second consecutive landing and the ninety-ninth launch from SLC-40 for SpaceX since they’ve taken occupancy of the complex. We should also see the Galaxy 31 & 32 satellites launched in the near future, adding to the list of accomplishments from SpaceX as they are scheduled to launch no earlier than November fifth of this year.