On its second Falcon 9 mission of the weekend, SpaceX will launch a pair of Internet-providing satellites for Luxembourg-based company SES. Liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station is scheduled for an 89-minute window that opens at 16:08 EST (2108 UTC).
According to the 45th Weather Squadron’s launch weather forecast, there is a 70 percent chance of favorable weather during takeoff, with cumulonimbus clouds as the primary observation. If the start were to fall on Monday, the weather would deteriorate to the point that there would be only a 40 percent chance of favorable weather.
Spaceflight Now will have live coverage of O3b mPOWER 5&6 launch commentary starting approximately one hour prior to liftoff.
The O3b mPOWER 5 and 6 satellites are ready to be loaded into a pair of Falcon 9 payload pods ahead of a planned 2023 launch. November 12 Image: SpaceX This is the third launch of Boeing-built O3b mPower satellites for SES. O3b stands for “the other 3 billion,” referring to the billions of people around the world who do not have access to consistent and reliable Internet service. The first two O3b mPOWER satellites were launched in 2022. on December 16, and the second pair in 2023. April 28 The satellites operate in a Mean Earth Orbit (MEO), approximately 8,000 kilometers above the Earth.
SES in its 2023 stated in the annual results report that commercial services from satellites O3b mPOWER 5 and 6 are expected in the second half of 2024. at the beginning of the quarter, i.e. delayed from 2023. the end
O3b mPOWER headwind
The launch of the third pair of satellites for the O3b mPOWER constellation is a challenging time for SES. According to the company, among the first four satellites launched, “random shutdowns of power modules … including several non-recoverable events” have increased.
Boeing and SES have been looking at the root causes and mitigation options for these satellites that have already been launched. The launch of the third pair of O3b mPOWER satellites has been delayed several times to 2023 during these studies.
“We have identified the cause of the power module problems with the first 4 satellites in orbit and have now developed a plan to address these issues,” SES CEO Roy Pinto said in a statement accompanying the 2023 launch. YTD results. .
The O3b mPOWER 5 and 6 satellites are located in a clean room in Florida. This will be the third pair to be launched as part of this constellation. Image: SpaceX’s O3b mPOWER satellites have more than 4,000 beams per satellite that can be adjusted to focus bandwidth in areas of high demand. This compares to the original O3b satellites built by Thales Alenia Space, which only had 10 beams per spacecraft.
“The expected lifetime and available capacity of the initial O3b mPOWER satellites have been determined to be significantly lower than previously expected,” SES said in a financial filing. “SES has secured a strong commitment from Boeing, and the two companies are working closely together to deliver the full lifecycle capabilities of the Constellation.”
Part of this commitment is that the remaining satellites under contract, numbers 7-11, will receive new upgrades and two more satellites will be added to the constellation. This will increase the O3b mPOWER constellation to 13 satellites, up from 20 in the original O3b constellation.
SES has not specified what the updates will look like or what they might be.
SES O3b mPOWER 5 and 6 satellites are processed in a clean room. Image: Implementation of SES Financial Promotion Objectives
Delivering the six O3b mPOWER satellites to MEO was a priority for SES, not only to get the service up and running as quickly as possible, but also to receive fiscal incentives from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Like other satellite Internet operators such as Intelsat and SpaceX, SES must free up C-band spectrum that has been auctioned to 5G wireless operators. The company had to comply with the 5th of December. term in order to receive 3 billion
The SES O3b mPOWER 5 and 6 satellites nested between a pair of SpaceX Falcon 9 payload fairings prior to encapsulation. Image: SpaceX “I am pleased to confirm that we have now raised the full $3 billion. USD (pre-tax) expedited transfer payments from Phase II US Band C clearing,” Pinto said. “With the early completion of the clearing, we have fully realized our goals of enabling the accelerated deployment of 5G services in the US, protecting our customers’ critical broadcast services and creating significant value for SES.”
SES reported that it has 4.7 billion EUR (about 5 billion USD) contracts, including 830 million USD for SES-17 (launched October 24, 2021) and O3b mPOWER together.
The next pair of O3b mpOWER satellites will be launched in 2024. In the end. Satellites 9, 10 and 11 are expected to be launched in 2025, and 12 and 13 in 2026.