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Raumfahrt - Start von SpaceX Falcon 9 mit SES-12 Satelliten

25,05.2018

SpaceX test-fires previously-flown rocket for May 31 launch

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The nine Merlin main engines at the base of a recycled Falcon 9 rocket booster ignited Thursday night for several seconds during a pre-flight test-firing on a Cape Canaveral launch pad, clearing a major hurdle ahead of a scheduled May 31 liftoff with a high-power communications satellite for SES.

The main engines fired at 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday (0130 GMT Friday) as clamps held the Falcon 9 rocket firmly on the ground at Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad.

SpaceX confirmed a satisfactory static fire test, a customary step in all of the company’s launch campaigns, in a tweet published a few minutes later.

Thursday night’s hold-down firing clears the way for ground crews to lower the rocket from its launch mount and roll it back to a nearby hangar, where workers will connect it to the SES 12 communications satellite set to ride it toward a perch more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

The SES 12 satellite, nestled inside the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload fairing, will be mated to the launcher’s upper stage. The rocket will be returned to pad 40 next week ahead of a 58-minute launch window opening at 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT) next Thursday, May 31.

The middle-of-the-night launch will mark SpaceX’s 11th mission of the year, and the 13th time the company has flown a reused first stage booster since Falcon 9 flights with recycled rockets began in March 2017.

The first stage assigned to SES 12’s launch first flew last September with the U.S. Air Force’s robotic X-37B spaceplane, which remains in orbit on a top secret mission. The booster is based on a discontinued version of the Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 4, and SpaceX is not expected to attempt to recover the vehicle.

Driven by plasma thrusters instead of conventional rocket engines, the SES 12 satellite was manufactured by Airbus Defense and Space and assembled in Toulouse, France, before its shipment to Cape Canaveral last month.

SES 12 will be one of the largest satellites in a fleet of more than 50 spacecraft owned by SES, a Luxembourg-based company which is one of the world’s biggest commercial satellite operators. Once in position in geostationary orbit at 95 degrees east longitude, SES 12 will provide HD and Ultra HD television broadcast services, data relay capacity, and broadband and cellular connectivity across more than 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

“SES-12 was built to meet the dynamic needs of our customers across the Asia-Pacific region, and to empower them to capture massive growth opportunities in their markets,” said Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer at SES. “When co-located with SES-8, it will provide incremental high performance capacity and offer greater reliability and flexibility to our video and data customers.”

The spacecraft weighs nearly 12,000 pounds — about 5,400 kilograms — with its load of xenon propellant, significantly lighter than a satellite of comparable capability with conventional hydrazine fuel.

Quelle: SN

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Update: 30.05.2018

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Weather iffy for early Friday SpaceX rocket launch from Cape Canaveral

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On May 11, 2018, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center with Bangladesh's first satellite.
SpaceX

SpaceX is now targeting an early Friday, June 1, launch of a European communications satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Liftoff off by a used Falcon 9 rocket is targeted for 12:29 a.m. Friday, the opening of a nearly two-hour window at Launch Complex 40.

The weather forecast is not ideal, with lingering thick clouds offering a 40 percent chance of acceptable launch conditions, according to Tuesday's forecast from the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron.

But those clouds, remnants of Subtropical Storm Alberto, are expected to dissipate as the launch window progresses. 

The Falcon 9 will attempt to deliver the SES-12 spacecraft to an orbit high over the equator for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES.

Built by Airbus Defense and Space, the nearly 12,000-pound satellite, one of the largest launched by SES, will provide high-definition broadcast and high-speed data services in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

The mission will be the second flown by the rocket's first-stage booster, which helped launched the Air Force's X-37B space plane last September. 

SpaceX will not try to land the booster again, but is expected to try to recover the rocket's nose cone from the ocean after a parachute-assisted splashdown.

The booster is an older model that SpaceX is replacing with a new version, known as Block 5, which launched for the first time on May 11.

The launch had initially been targeted for this Thursday, but SpaceX on Monday said it would take "additional time to perform prelaunch vehicle checks, also closely watching weather conditions at the Cape."

If the mission does not launch Friday, it's unclear when the next attempt would be possible.

The Eastern Range has just begun a scheduled two-week maintenance period, performed twice a year, that may affect near-term launch opportunities.

Quelle: Florida Today

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Update: 31.05.2018 / 7.30 MESZ

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Update: 1.06.2018

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Jun 4 - Falcon 9 : SES-12 Launch site Cape Canaveral AFB, FL
Launch Date Jun 4
From Launch Pad LC-40
Launch Window : 12:29am Eastern (04:29 GMT)
A Falcon 9 rocket will launch the SES-12 communications satellite into orbit from Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Falcon 9 will use a previously flown block 4 first stage booster which will not be recovered and will splash down in the Atlantic ocean.

The SES-12 satellite will expand SESs capabilities to provide direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting, VSAT, Mobility and High Throughput Satellite (HTS) data connectivity services in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, including rapidly growing markets such as India and Indonesia. The satellite will replace NSS-6 at this location and will be co-located with SES-8. SES-12 is capable of supporting requirements in multiple verticals from Cyprus in the West to Japan in the East, and from Russia in the North to Australia in the South.

Quelle: AS

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Update: 3.06.2018

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SpaceX still targeting late night launch of unique Falcon 9 rocket with massive satellite

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The SES-12 satellite.
Airbus Defense and Space
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SpaceX teams are still working toward the early Monday launch of a unique Falcon 9 rocket that features a combination of previous and next-generation stages designed to take a massive communications satellite to orbit.

Teams have four hours – 12:29 a.m. to 4:29 a.m. – to launch the previously flown Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 with SES-12, the most powerful commercial communications satellite ever developed by Luxembourg-based SES. The mission is expendable, so SpaceX will not deploy its Of Course I Still Love You drone ship to recover the first stage.

The Air Force's latest weather forecast points to 70 percent favorable conditions for the mission that will feature SpaceX's next-generation second stage, referred to as Block 5. The first complete Block 5 rocket – first and second stages combined – launched from Kennedy Space Center on May 11 with a Bangladeshi communications satellite.

"The first stage is a Block 4, and the upper stage is a Block 5," Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer for SES, said during a pre-launch conference Thursday at Port Canaveral's Exploration Tower. "We get a lot of performance from this vehicle."

He wasn't exaggerating: By firing the Merlin engine on that second stage an additional three to five seconds during its second burn, the spacecraft could achieve up to seven more years of operational life in geostationary orbit. The spacecraft won't need to use as much of its own fuel to achieve its target altitude 22,300 miles above the equator, likely extending its ability to stay on orbit from 15 to 22 years.

“It’s such a powerful upper stage," Halliwell said. "That engine is a monster. So five seconds more to burn, a little bit more fuel, and it completely changes the dynamics of the project.”

SpaceX is in the process of flying and discarding older, less advanced Block 4 first stages to clear inventory – the company will likely fly just one more before moving its entire manifest to the Block 5 iteration, which CEO Elon Musk says can fly up to 10 times with minimal refurbishment between missions. Beyond that, the boosters could launch up to 100 times with moderate inspections and changes.

The next-generation vehicles feature improved reusability, upgraded thrust, retractable black landing legs that can reduce time between launches, a new black interstage and a slightly larger payload fairing, to name a few. It will also help SpaceX reduce costs from $60 million to about $50 million per launch, Musk said in May.

The massive SES-12 spacecraft, built by Airbus Defense and Space, will serve the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions with a variety of communications abilities. Halliwell said the "brute" of a satellite just barely fits in the Falcon 9's fairing.

"We're almost going to the limits of what we can do with this spacecraft," he said. "This is going to be a really, really good mission."

Quelle: Florida Today 

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Update: 4.06.2018

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SES-12 MISSION

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SpaceX is targeting launch of the SES-12 satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The four-hour launch window opens on Monday, June 4 at 12:45 a.m. EDT, or 4:45 UTC. The satellite will be deployed approximately 32 minutes after liftoff. A four-hour backup launch window opens on Tuesday, June 5 at 12:29 a.m. EDT, or 4:29 UTC.
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Quelle: SpaceX
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