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SpaceX successfully launches Israeli telecommunications satellite Spaceflight Now



A Falcon 9 rocket launched with the communications satellite Amos 17 at 19:23. EDT (2323 GMT) Tuesday from launch pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX launched the Israeli communications satellite Amos 17 of Cape Canaveral on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, almost three years after a SpaceX missile blast destroyed a predecessor payload before it hit the ground.

A 70 meter high Falcon 9 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral at 7:23 pm with the spacecraft Amos 17 from Spacecom Ltd. aboard EDT (2323 GMT) after a half hour delay to wait for stormy weather to clear the area.

Nine Merlin 1D engines were brought to life with 1.7 million pounds of total thrust to push the wearer into a gloomy evening sky near dark clouds of thunderstorms.

Tuesday's mission profile was almost full, and SpaceX was not trying to rescue the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. The 6.5-tonne Amos 17 probe required a significant boost from the Falcon 9 to reach an elliptical transfer orbit that spans more than 36,000 kilometers above the earth, leaving insufficient fuel to drive it in the first stage to try A controlled landing.

Nonetheless, on Tuesday, SpaceX achieved another success in the company's efforts to restore and reuse rocket hardware.

Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX, reported on Twitter that the offshore vessel "Ms. Tree "successfully intercepted half of the payload of the Falcon 9 rocket in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday night.

The shroud protected the spaceship Amos 17 during the first minutes of flight through the dense lower layers of the atmosphere. In space, the rocket dropped the shell-like shroud in two because it was no longer needed.

In a first launch sector, SpaceX has equipped the fairing halves with jet engines and parafoils to slow the descent back from space through the air atmosphere. Ms. Tree has a huge net to trap the disguise as she gently returns to the earth.

SpaceX's Ms. Tree salvage ship hit disguise for the first time in June following Falcon Heavy's launch. Tuesday night's catch was the second time that Ms. Tree had been disguised after many previous attempts had been missed.

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX, told reporters last year that the disguise costs around $ 6 million.

The other half of the shroud Tuesday evening mission with Amos 17 splashed under a separate parachute in the ocean. Teams on a SpaceX ship were planning to pull the structure out of the sea and return it to the harbor with the half of the fairing caught by Ms. Tree.

When the SpaceX rescue team picked up the Falcon 9 fairing, the upper stage of the rocket fired its main engine twice to launch the Amos 17 satellite into an elliptical orbit on its way to its terminus in a geostationary orbit above the equator.

The Falcon 9 advanced stage released Amos 17 into orbit around 32 minutes after taking off. Officials said.

Boeing ground controllers, who built the spacecraft Amos 17, received the first radio signals from the satellite on Tuesday evening, confirming their condition after take-off.

In the next few weeks, Amos 17 will be an on-board engine to orbit its orbit at a geostationary altitude of more than 35,000 km above the equator. The satellite will deploy its solar panels and reflector antennas, and the ground controls will undergo a comprehensive review of Amos 17 after launch, before being handed over to Spacecom for commercial service later this year.

In geostationary orbit, Amos 17 will reach its speed Adjust the speed of Earth's rotation, and the satellite will be parked at 17 degrees East longitude within the reach of customers in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. From the ground user's point of view, Amos 17 remains in a fixed position in the sky.

According to Spacecom, the $ 250 million Amos 17 satellite is designed to last 20 years.

Amos 17 will replace the Amos 5 satellite at 17 degrees East, which failed in 2015. The new satellite transmits C-band, Ku-band and Ka-band communication payloads for TV broadcasts, broadband Internet and other network and data relay services.

David Laut Pollack, President and CEO of Spacecom, has an "intelligent payload" Amos 17 that can be reprogrammed from the ground to meet changing market demands.

"This satellite is based on our 702 heritage bus," said Chris Johnson, President of Boeing Satellite Systems, which built Amos 17 in El Segundo, California. "It features a highly flexible payload and a state-of-the-art digital channelizer, allowing Spacecom to customize and provide flexibility for changing user coverage for various mission needs, as well as extensive in-orbit reconfiguration to meet growing demand.

Similar reprogrammable digital payloads have flown on previous Boeing satellites, including the latest US Air Force broadband satellite for global SATCOM communications and Intel's Epic video, data and Internet relay satellite.

However, Amos 17 is the first satellite that has a channelizer to route data using three different communication bands. The digital payload can automatically switch between bands for data uplinks and downlinks without the user needing special equipment.

Artist concept of the Amos satellite 17. Credit: Spacecom

With the launch of Spacecom on Tuesday, Spacecom returned to Cape Canaveral for the first time after the company's Amos 6 communications satellite arrived a few minutes before the scheduled trial fire of a Falcon 9 Rocket on the launch pad had been destroyed September 2016.

SpaceX's investigation revealed that a composite pressure vessel (COPV) in the second-stage liquid oxygen tank suddenly burst during refueling of the Falcon 9 rocket, triggering the 2016 explosion.

The company changed the procedure after

"This was a serious accident for us," Pollack said in a briefing before launching with reporters last week. "The insurance company supported us and paid everything to the satisfaction of our borrowers. In this regard, we were fine. The markets have supported us. "

Amos 17 is not a direct replacement for the Amos 6 satellite lost in the 2016 accident. The new satellite will be operated in a different geostationary slot, and Amos 17 has a more complex communication payload.

Spacecom's Facebook agreement to use the Amos 6 satellite to expand broadband connectivity in Africa will not continue with Amos 17. Pollack said.

"We had a design to serve Africa with Amos 6," he said. "We had a pre-launch contract with Facebook and wanted to serve Africa together. We had plans for this satellite. Everything exploded and I am very sorry and delayed our programs.

"It was a serious setback for us. But as in the old James Bond movies, we liked that (wiping dust off his shoulders) and we're here with Amos 17 and ready to go.

Spacecom's decision to re-deploy a Falcon 9 rocket was made after an audit In a 2017 statement released after the selection of SpaceX for the launch of Amos 17, Spacecom stated that it was " would use the full credits of Amos 6s unfulfilled . 19659037] Start in September 2016 to fully cover the entry fees of Amos 17 . "

"You owe us a start," Pollack said last week.

"If you go back from then to now, they have a very perfect history of takeoffs," said Pollack. "I think they are doing a very good job."

SpaceX has rarely intentionally disposed of a Falcon booster since the latest generation of the Falcon 9 rocket, named Block 5, debuted last year.

With nearly 7.2 tons Amos 17 is a fully refueled spaceship. The satellite needed the full power of the Falcon 9 to reach its intended geostationary transfer orbit.

However, Falcon 9 rockets have previously used heavier geostationary communication satellites in lower orbits. In these cases, the satellites had to consume more propellant to reach their operations.

With Tuesday's higher orbit, Amos 17 is closer to its final orbit position and the satellite will have enough fuel to function, Spacecom says.

The compromise is that SpaceX could not recover the first stage of the Falcon 9, a veteran of two previous takeoffs and landings in 2018. like provisions for the Amos 17 transfer orbit. He pointed out, however, the expected long life of the satellite.

"This satellite cost us about $ 250 million in orbit. We hope to be able to restore it within six or seven years, which is acceptable in the industry, "Pollack said. "And then, because it's 20 years, we hopefully have a long life to make a profit."

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1 .


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