SES Approves Satellite Shipment for Falcon 9 Launch
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Author:  The_Hatta [ Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:03 am ]
Post subject:  SES Approves Satellite Shipment for Falcon 9 Launch

PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES has authorized the shipment of its SES-8 satellite to Florida to prepare for launch aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) Falcon 9 rocket despite concerns among insurance industry officials that the Sept. 29 demonstration flight of a new Falcon 9 variant did not meet a key objective.

Luxembourg-based SES has said it is awaiting more data from SpaceX about why the Falcon 9 v1.1’s upper-stage engine did not complete a second ignition at the end of the vehicle’s inaugural mission as planned. A reignition of the upper stage will be required to place SES-8 into geostationary transfer orbit, the dropoff point for most telecommunications satellites.

But in a demonstration of how much it wants Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX to establish itself in the commercial launch market, SES on Oct. 2 authorized satellite builder Orbital Sciences to pack SES-8 into a container and bring it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., by truck.

The upper-stage reignition was attempted after the Falcon 9 v1.1 — an upgrade featuring new engines, a stretched fuel tank and a 5-meter fairing — successfully deployed the Canadian Space Agency’s Cassiope space weather monitoring satellite and three secondary payloads into low Earth orbit in a mission that launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. By press time Oct. 4, the payload owners said their satellites were operating with no major issues.

But the U.S. Defense Department was still tracking nearly double the number of objects associated with the launch than had been expected, puzzling experts and casual observers alike and leading SpaceX to issue a statement saying the upper stage did not explode or break apart in orbit.

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