Monday, November 25, 2013

SES-8 Satellite Launch Will Be SpaceX’s Most Challenging To Date

November 25, 2013

A September test launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Credit: SpaceX
Lawrence LeBlond for – Your Universe Online

SpaceX is preparing for its next big mission this evening when it will, for the first time, attempt to launch a telecom satellite into orbit. A successful launch could prove the Elon Musk-owned company’s worth as both a private and commercial powerhouse in the space launch game.

The launch window for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 opens today at 5:37 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket will be carrying a Luxembourg-based SES-8 satellite that will serve television customers in India and parts of Southeast Asia.

The launch of a satellite is not only a first for SpaceX, but will also be its most challenging. The Falcon 9 rocket must show its capabilities in launching the SES-8 satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit more than 22,000 miles over Earth’s equator.

Today’s launch of an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket, known as version 1.1, also comes after a September 29 test launch of the same rocket design in California. While that test was successful, an optional restart of the rocket’s upper stage engine, which will be necessary for the latest mission, failed to activate.

SpaceX later determined that an igniter line froze and believes that added insulation will prevent a repeat of the issue.

“We’ve done everything we can possibly think of to maximize the reliability of this launch,” Musk, CEO and chief designer at SpaceX, told BBC’s Jonathan Amos in an interview

“There’s no stone that hasn’t been turned over at least twice to maximize the probability of success. Being a rocket, there’s still some chance of failure, but whatever happens we can be at peace that we’ve done everything we could think of, and SES’s technical team has looked at it and they concur,” Musk added.

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