SpaceX launched two telecommunications satellites on Saturday, November 12, tying its own record for rocket reuse.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from the Cape Canaveral space station in Florida on Saturday at 11:06 a.m. EST (1606 GMT), carrying Intelsat’s Galaxy 31 and Galaxy 32 satellites.
It was the 14th mission of the first stage of this Falcon 9, equaling a SpaceX record. The booster also helped loft Demo-2, SpaceX’s first-ever astronaut flight, in May 2020; the RADARSAT Constellation Mission; the SXM-7 spacecraft for SiriusXM; and 10 large batches of Starlink satellites from SpaceX, the company wrote in a mission description (opens in a new tab).
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However, there will be no 15th flight for this booster; SpaceX did not attempt to drop it for safe landing and future reuse.
“Today’s payload needed a bit more performance from Falcon 9, so we had to use the thrusters we would normally use for entry and landing burn to put the payload into orbit,” SpaceX space operations engineer Siva Bharadvaj said. a webcast of the launch.
Both Galaxy 31 and Galaxy 32 are quite heavy, and Falcon 9 carried them to a distant geosynchronous transfer orbit. The rocket’s upper stage deployed the two satellites as planned about 33 minutes and 38 minutes after liftoff, respectively.
The duo will help Intelsat refresh its communications fleet, the company said on its website. (opens in a new tab). Broadband satellites represent a “new generation of technology” for customers that largely include television broadcasters, Intelsat officials said.
Galaxy 31 and Galaxy 32 will replace the old North American satellites in geosynchronous orbit, meaning they will constantly hover above an area of Earth.
Saturday’s launch was the second Intelsat mission in just over a month for SpaceX, which launched the Galaxy 33 and Galaxy 34 satellites using a Falcon 9 on October 8. (It was also the 14th mission for the first stage of this rocket, by the way.)
At the time, Intelsat officials said the two Galaxy satellites would provide new capabilities in C-band, a range of radio frequencies that Galaxy 31 and 32 will also use.
Saturday’s launch was the 52nd overall for SpaceX in 2022, adding to the company’s growing annual record (which was 31, set in 2021). It was also the 48th flight this year with a Falcon 9 rocket already in use.
The vast majority of SpaceX’s launches in 2022 have been used to grow the company’s massive Starlink satellite internet constellation. But SpaceX has also launched satellites from other companies into orbit, as well as cargo and crew missions to the International Space Station with Falcon 9s in 2022.
Additionally, SpaceX flew its Falcon Heavy on Nov. 1. The mission, which carried payloads for the US Space Force, was the mighty rocket’s first flight since June 2019.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at noon EST November 12 with news of the successful liftoff and deployment of the satellite.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (opens in a new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in a new tab). Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in a new tab) Where Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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