An Atlas V rocket blasted off Tuesday night (October 4) from the Florida Space Coast, carrying two commercial communications satellites into orbit.
the Atlas V, topped with the twin SES-20 and SES-21 spacecraft, launched Tuesday at 5:36 pm EDT (2136 GMT) from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The 60-meter (196-foot) tall rocket hit all its marks early. It jettisoned its three solid rocket boosters about 2 minutes after liftoff as planned, for example, and discarded its payload fairing, which protected the two satellites during launch, about 1.5 minutes later. And the two stages of the Atlas V separated in about T+4.5 minutes.
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Let’s relive the takeoff! #AtlasV #SES20 #SES21@SES_Satellites pic.twitter.com/uDh70XTCadOctober 4, 2022
But there is plenty of work to be done, as the rocket’s Centaur upper stage still needs to be boosted to the deployment destinations for SES-20 and SES-21: near-circular, near-geosynchronous orbits high above Earth.
If all goes according to plan, SES-20 will deploy approximately 5 hours and 40 minutes after liftoff, and SES-21 will do the same approximately 40 minutes later. The two spacecraft will then use their onboard propulsion systems to circularize their orbits, sending them soaring around Earth about 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) above the equator, according to a Description of the ULA mission (opens in a new tab).
Once the satellites are established in those orbits and have gone through a verification period, SES-20 and SES-21 can begin doing what they were created to do: provide broadcast television service in the United States for the company. of telecommunications of Luxembourg SES.
“Built by Boeing with thousands of narrow, steerable beams and the ability to isolate sources of interference, the two spacecraft provide SES and future customers with the ability to expand, extend or even change the coverage area and mission of a satellite throughout its life,” the ULA representatives wrote. in the mission description.
“Proven hardware coupled with next-generation technology created an affordable and lightweight spacecraft, enabling the launch of two satellites on a single rocket,” they added.
The Atlas V launch is part of a busy week in spaceflight. For example, SpaceX plans to launch the Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA and another batch of the company star link Internet satellites on two separate missions on Wednesday (Oct 5), as well as two telecommunications satellites for the Intelsat company on Thursday (Oct 6).
There are also three other missions scheduled for Thursday (October 6), including one rocket lab launch that will put a satellite built by energy and technology firm General Atomics into orbit.
Publisher’s note: This story was updated at 6:15 pm EDT on October 1. 4 with news of successful launch.
Mike Wall is the author of “out there (opens in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; Illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @migueldwall (opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @spacedot.com (opens in a new tab) or in Facebook (opens in a new tab).
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