Record-setting commercial satellite awaits blastoff from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

Record-setting commercial satellite awaits blastoff from Cape Canaveral – Spaceflight Now

The Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite is examined at SSL’s compact antenna check vary. Credit: SSL

An enormous U.S.-built, Canadian-owned communications satellite weighing 15,600 kilos, the heaviest spacecraft of its type ever launched, is mounted to a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff early Sunday from Cape Canaveral on a heavy-lifting mission that beforehand would have required SpaceX to throw away the launcher’s first stage booster.

The Telstar 19 VANTAGE spacecraft is ready to kick off a 15-year mission beaming broadband providers throughout the Americas, and connecting airline passengers to WiFi over the North Atlantic Ocean.

Liftoff of the satellite atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral’s Complex 40 launch pad is scheduled for a four-hour window opening at 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT) Sunday.

There is a 60 p.c chance of favorable climate throughout the launch window. The chief concern is that afternoon and night thunderstorms might linger late into the evening, violating the thick cloud and cumulus cloud climate guidelines.

Sunday’s mission would be the second flight utilizing SpaceX’s upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 first stage, the most recent technology in a collection of step-by-step enhancements supposed to spice up the launcher’s efficiency, whereas introducing modifications to permit the booster to be simpler to get better and reuse.

SpaceX launched the primary Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket May 11 with Bangladesh’s first communications satellite. Officials heralded the profitable debut as pivotal in permitting SpaceX to scale back the money and time wanted to show round a recovered booster for an additional mission.

File photograph of SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket awaiting liftoff from pad 39A in May at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, advised reporters in May Block 5 first stage might be flown 10 occasions with little modifications aside from refueling, and as much as 100 occasions with extra vital refurbishment. At the time, Musk stated SpaceX plans to re-fly a Falcon 9 first stage as shortly as 24 hours after its earlier mission as quickly as subsequent yr.

The enhancements embody a beefed-up thermal safety system to higher protect the rocket in opposition to re-entry heating. SpaceX launched new black coatings on the interstage and touchdown legs, and the Falcon 9’s first stage engine part, or octaweb, is bolted on to the automobile within the new configuration, quite than welded to the primary stage.

He stated the 9 Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket can generate eight p.c extra thrust at sea stage, as much as round 190,000 kilos of thrust every. The Merlin engine on the Falcon 9’s second stage additionally obtained a efficiency improve.

Since the primary Falcon 9 Block 5 mission in May, SpaceX has launched three Falcon 9 flights utilizing a mixture of new Block 5 higher phases and reused Block four first phases. Sunday’s mission would be the second using all-Block 5 .

The further carry functionality of the Falcon 9 Block 5 will enable the rocket to ship the practically 15,600-pound (7,075-kilogram) Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite towards its operational perch in geostationary orbit greater than 22,000 miles (practically 36,000 kilometers) over the equator.

The flight plan requires the Falcon 9’s second stage to fireplace its engine twice, then deploy the Telstar 19 VANTAGE payload into an elliptical, egg-shaped switch orbit with a low level just a few hundred miles above Earth, and a excessive level ranging tens of 1000’s of miles in altitude.

Following the corporate’s customary coverage, SpaceX has not launched the precise parameters of the orbit focused on Sunday’s mission. Other commercial launch suppliers sometimes publish such information prematurely of their missions.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 will give the communications satellite, owned by Ottawa-based Telesat, a high-altitude carry whereas its first stage nonetheless retains sufficient propellant to return to a SpaceX drone ship parked within the Atlantic Ocean just a few hundred miles east of Cape Canaveral.

Hauling such a heavy satellite towards a high-altitude geostationary switch orbit would have required earlier variations of the Falcon 9 to commit all of their first stage propellants towards the launch, leaving inadequate leftover gas for descent maneuvers.

The Falcon 9’s first stage reignites a subset of its engines to focus on landings at sea or on land, then extends 4 touchdown legs whereas utilizing its middle engine to brake for landing. The further engine restarts require further gas, consuming into the mass the Falcon 9 can ship into orbit.

The Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite pictured throughout a cryo-vacuum check marketing campaign. Credit: SSL

Sunday’s launch shall be SpaceX’s 13th mission of the yr, and the 58th flight of a Falcon 9 rocket because the first model of the launcher debuted in 2010. SpaceX will attempt for its 26th rocket touchdown Sunday.

Manufactured by SSL, previously often known as Space Systems/Loral, in Palo Alto, California, the Telstar 19 VANTAGE satellite is the primary of two SSL-built, Telesat-owned telecom craft set for launch on Falcon 9 rockets this summer time. The Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite is scheduled for liftoff from Cape Canaveral on one other Falcon 9 flight no sooner than Aug. 17.

Telstar 19 VANTAGE will turn into the heaviest commercial communications satellite ever launched, eclipsing a document set by the TerreStar 1 telecom spacecraft, which weighed 15,234 kilos (6,910 kilograms) when it rode an Ariane 5 rocket into orbit July 2009.

It can be set to be the heaviest satellite ever launched by SpaceX into geostationary switch orbit, the drop-off for many commercial telecom payloads.

Telstar 19 VANTAGE will use its personal hydrazine-fueled engine to circularize its orbit after separation from the Falcon 9 rocket, climbing right into a round geostationary perch practically 22,300 miles over the equator at 63 levels west longitude. In that place, Telstar 19 VANTAGE’s orbital velocity will match the velocity of Earth’s rotation, permitting it to hover over a set geographic level.

Once the satellite unfurls its power-generating photo voltaic wings and communications antennas, Telesat will carry the latest member of its fleet into service by late August, an organization spokesperson stated.

Telstar 19 VANTAGE will function in the identical geostationary slot because the Telstar 14R satellite deployed in 2011, which encountered a failure in certainly one of its photo voltaic arrays shortly after launch, diminishing its functionality.

Telstar 19 VANTAGE carries Ku-band and Ka-band payloads, with protection extending from Northern Canada to South America for broadband connectivity. The new satellite can even present airborne Internet providers for plane touring on trans-Atlantic routes between North America and Europe.

“Telstar 19 VANTAGE is a state-of-the-art high-throughput satellite that will be co-located with our Telstar 14R satellite to expand our services over the Americas, the Caribbean and the North Atlantic,” stated Dan Goldberg, president and CEO of Telesat. “The satellite has a mix of Ka- and Ku-band capacity.”

“The Ka-band capacity for South America is already under a 15-year contract with Hughes Network Systems and our long-standing customer Bell Canada has entered into a 15-year contract for substantially all of the satellite’s Ka-band capacity over Northern Canada, which means that all of the satellite’s Ka-band capacity serving that region is already under contract.”

Goldberg stated a few third of the brand new satellite’s Ku-band communications capability has been pre-sold.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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