A Space Exploration Technologies Falcon 9 rocket took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to deliver a commercial communications satellite into orbit. The communications satellite will provide video broadcasts and data services to China and Southeast Asia over the next 15 years. It has a 28 high power C-band transponders.

The rocket is 224-foot (68-meter) tall, blasted off from the seaside launch pad at 1 am, making its way through cloudy skies. The satellite it delivered is called AsiaSat 6. This was the second launch for Hong Kong based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Holdings Ltd or AsiaSat. The first satellite AsiaSat 8 was delivered into orbit on August 5; the orbit was 22000 miles or 35700 km above Earth. Both these satellite were placed inside the rocket’s nose cone and were built by Space Systems/Loral, A Palo Alto, California based subsidiary of Canada’s MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.

AsiaSat chief executive William Wade shared that with the two satellites coming out of the factory approximately the same time his company was able to book back-to-back missions. According to Wade, the two launches cost AsiaSat about $110 million.

This second launch was to take place two weeks ago, but was delayed to recheck the rocket’s systems following an unrelated accident that claimed the company’s prototype Falcon 9R reusable lander during a test flight on August 22. The Falcon rocket self destructed after a lift off from the company’s McGregor, Texas facility. SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said the problem was due to a blocked sensor port, a situation that would not have impacted an operational Falcon rocket.

“What we do want to triple-check is whether even highly improbable corner case scenarios have the optimal fault detection and recovery logic. This has already been reviewed by SpaceX and multiple outside agencies, so the most likely outcome is no change,” he said is an official statement. SpaceX on Saturday declined to say if any equipment or procedures were changes as a result of the investigation.

This launch was the 12th launch of Falcon rockets, which not only delivers satellites for commercial purposes, but also flied Dragon cargo ships to the International Space Station for NASA.

13 Responses

  1. SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket successfully delivers AsiaSat 6 Satellite into the Orbit – The Westside Story | mvcsattelites

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  2. sbignewski

    A praiseworthy accomplishment. A communication satellite benefits all humankind.

    And, of course, there was just enough rocket and fuel to lift the satellite.

    The fuel pumps, the piping, the fuel tanks, the combustion chambers, the supporting structure, all were made to last only once. That is a major saving.

    The rocket carried only enough fuel to do the job, not extra fuel to land the first stage, nor extra fuel to lift that extra fuel.

    The Falcon 9 is a great achievement. The whole team should be proud.

    • gopher652003

      The fuel for the Falcon 9 only costs a few hundred thousand dollars. Saving a few litres of fuel is irrelevant to the cost of the rocket.

      The rocket costs 63 million to book right now, and 70% of that cost is building “single use” first stages. If they reused the first stage 10 times each rocket would cost 25 million, and they’d *still* be making as much money per rocket as they are now.

      • sbignewski

        Everything has to be made better and heavier in order to be re-used. The bearings in the fuel pumps, the LOX valves, the airframe, the fuel tanks, the combustion chambers, everything. Not only that, but the non-“R”s don’t have to be built to be taken apart again for repair. And the “R”s WILL have to be repaired and refitted after EVERY recovery, providing they GET recovered in good enough shape to be used again. What happens the first time one smacks a swell on touchdown and puts a kink into a fuel tank? The “R” model costs far more to build (and maintain) than the non-“R” (which doesn’t get maintained at all), far more, and is subject to all kinds of hazards that the non-“R” is not. Yes, I agree, the bad fuel economy is just the tip of the iceberg.

      • gopher652003

        …they’re already built that way. The margins are ridiculously high on the Falcon 9. Absurdly high, in fact. Much higher than they need to be for a disposable rocket. Having margins that high in every single system only makes sense if the rocket is going to be reused.

        So that extra weight you’re worried about? It’s already being carried. On every mission. The landing legs are optional, but the extra mass in the tank walls, the unnecessary safety systems, they aren’t. They’re carried on every F9 v1.1 flight.

      • sbignewski

        Well, if that’s the case I wish them luck. They’d better hope Volkswagen and Honda don’t start making rockets.

      • gopher652003

        Hah, yeah.

        No one knows yet if reusable 2 stage VTVL rockets will work out. For all we know, extra margins or no, they’ll be so expensive to refurbish that we’ll be calling them “the next shuttle” before long.

        If we knew how this was going to turn out, every company and every national space agency would be doing it. Right now everyone’s just watching the various reusable developments (SpaceX, Masten, Skylon, Firefly) and waiting to see what happens.

        Hopefully one or more (or all of them!) work out.

      • sbignewski

        Well, yes, that’s a good point. I don’t think it will pay off but I really don’t know for sure. It’s Elon’s money. I wish him success. If it does work out that would be great, for him and everybody else.

      • sbignewski

        But, to continue… the engine gimbals, the hydraulic pumps, the hydraulic hoses and fittings, the rivets in the skin, the skin itself, the anti-corrosion treatment between ALL the thousands of joints (which salt water may get into), the electronics, the wiring, the gas generators that drive the fuel pumps, all the sensors (which will need replacing), the paint, the fuel piping, the computer hardware…. It ALL has to be checked, tested and RE-CERTIFIED following EVERY recovery.

      • gopher652003

        Just like they recertify a commercial airliner after every flight? Right, no. That’s not how that works. What you do is run tests to see how long the whole unit will last, and what parts fail first. Those commonly failing parts are made easy to access and repair, but everything else isn’t.

        After you figure out how many hours each airliner can realistically fly, you halve that (or whatever the company in question feels is reasonable), and make *that* the maximum number of hours the plane can fly. That’s your safety margin. Some individual aircraft might well fly for many times that number of hours, but it’s not worth the risk for most operators (so what they do is sell them to third world operators, usually in Africa, who aren’t concerned that the aircraft has gone past it’s recommended number of flying hours).

        Rockets will eventually work the same way.

      • sbignewski

        No, not like a commercial airliner, like the space shuttle.

      • gopher652003

        I think we can all agree on this: sure hope not.

  3. andrewp3

    “but also flied Dragon cargo ships”

    The word is “flew”


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