SpaceX keeps promise with AMOS-17 delivery

Falcon 9 delivered the AMOS-17 communications satellite to geostationary transfer orbit following a launch from Cape Canaveral, 06 Aug 2019 2323 UT.

AMOS-17 is operated by Israeli firm Spacecom and will operate at 17° East as a broadcast and broadband satellite serving African customers. The Boeing-built 5500 kg commsat features flexible routing between all of its transponders and spotbeams across the C, Ku, and Ka bands.

Today’s flight was originally scheduled for 2252 UT, but this slid to 2323 a few hours before launch. Just a few minutes before launch, continued marginal weather nearly delayed the launch again, though a last-second improvement allowed the launch to proceed.

The delivery fulfills a promise made by SpaceX to take Spacecom to orbit, following the loss of AMOS-6 during a ground test on 01 Sep 2016. Though the twice-used first stage was completely expended for this flight, a useful piece of flight hardware was still recovered; SpaceX recovery ship Ms. Tree, stationed nearly 1000 km downrange from Cape Canaveral, completed its mission to fetch at least one of the halves of the launch fairing.

Arianespace returns to flight with Ariane 5 launch

Arianespace delivered 2 satellites to orbit with the launch of an Ariane 5 rocket from the Centre Spatial Guyanais, 6 August 2019 1930 UTC. The Intelsat 39 and EDRS-C satellites were successfully carried to geostationary transfer orbit.

Intelsat 39 is a replacement for Intelsat 902, launched in 2001. The 6600 kg, LS1300 satellite was built by Maxar in California, and will be located at 62° East to serve 3G/4G mobile services and traditional customers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Indian Ocean region.

EDRS-C continues Europe’s SpaceDataHighway laser communications project, which delivers additional real-time communications capacity for polar-orbiting satellites and UAVs; it also hosts and traditional geotationary transponders.

EDRS-C will operate from 31° East. The 3186 kg SmallGEO satellite was manufactured by German firm OHG. The primary lasercomm payload operates at up to 1.8 Gb/s and is a project of DLR, the German space agency, and the Tesat-Spacecom division of Airbus. EDRS-C also carries secondary payload HYLAS-3, a steerable-beam transponder unit from Avanti Communications, designed to provide Internet throughput to Africa with 8 spotbeams, all routed to a single fully steerable primary link location, such as European data centres.

EDRS-C builds on 2016’s EDRS-A mission, which still operates and is hosted on Eutelsat 9B at 9° E. The EDRS network will continue to expand with the forthcoming EDRS-D satellite, scheduled for 2020, to be placed in a far-east orbital slot to serve the Asia-Pacific region.

The launch is welcome news for Arianespace, which failed to deliver the UAE’s FalconEye surveillance satellite on its solid-fuelled Vega launcher 11 July 2019; the full cause of that mission’s interstage failure is still under investigation, but the €369 million loss has already caused reinsurance firm Swiss Re to leave the insurance market for satellite launches.