SpaceX Launches Twice on St. Patrick’s Day
SpaceX launched two communication satellites for SES, a Luxembourg-based satellite operator, on a Falcon 9 rocket on Friday, March 17, 2023.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 7:38 p.m. EDT, carrying the SES-18 and SES-19 satellites to a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The rocket's first-stage booster landed on droneship Just Read the Instructions in the Atlantic Ocean after its sixth flight.
The SES-18 and SES-19 satellites, built by Northrop Grumman, are expected to start services in June after reaching their final orbital slots at 103 degrees west and 135 degrees west respectively. They will provide TV and radio coverage to American homes as well as data transmission services, according to the satellite operator.
SES ordered six satellites to help migrate its broadcast customers into a narrower swath of C-band so that more frequencies can be used for terrestrial 5G services in the United States. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auctioned off these frequencies to wireless operators in 2021 and offered incentive payments to satellite operators who can clear them by Dec. 5.
SES stands to receive $3.97 billion in total incentive payments from the FCC if it can meet the deadline. The operator said its C-band clearing activities are currently running ahead of schedule.
This was SpaceX's second launch of the day, following an earlier mission that deployed 52 Starlink internet satellites from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The first stage of that mission landed on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You.