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.