Making their fourth orbital launch of the year, the SpaceX team have conducted another Falcon 9 mission on Tuesday, deploying China’s AsiaSat-8 satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The launch took place from Cape Canaveral, with a T-0 of 08:00 UTC – following a hold during the initial attempt at the opening of the window.
Falcon 9 v1.1/ASIASAT-8:
The AsiaSat-8 spacecraft was constructed by Space Systems/Loral, and carries 24 transponders operating in the Ku band of the electromagnetic spectrum with a bandwidth of 54 megahertz, along with a single Ka-band transponder. It is based on the LS-1300 bus.
Powered by twin solar arrays, each with four panels, the satellite’s communications systems can produce an output of 8.5 kilowatts.
AsiaSat-8 is the ninth satellite to be operated by China’s Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company, which was formed in 1988 and is based in Hong Kong.
AsiaSat-8 is intended to augment the older AsiaSat-7 spacecraft, and will be located in geostationary orbit at a longitude of 105.5 degrees East.
The satellite is designed for a fifteen year mission and will provide communications services to China, the Middle East, India and Southern Asia.
With elongated first and second stages, uprated engines and a revised engine arrangement on the first stage, this change has increased the amount of payload which the Falcon is able to place into orbit.
The September 2013 launch, which also marked the first time SpaceX had launched a rocket from the West coast of the United States – at Vandenberg Air Force Base – and six Orbcomm satellites last month.
SpaceX intends to continue development of the Falcon 9, with a view of eventually making it reusable.
Tuesday’s mission was a strictly one-way trip for the Falcon; the heavier AsiaSat spacecraft and high deployment orbit will require all of the rocket’s available performance, leaving no fuel available for a recovery demonstration.
Falcon 9 launches from the East coast of the United States are made from Space Launch Complex 40 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a facility which was originally constructed in the 1960s for the Titan III.
Part of the Integrate-Transfer-Launch Complex, along with the nearby Launch Complex 41 – now used by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V – the first launch from Complex 40 occurred in June 1965 when the Titan IIIC made its maiden flight.
In November 1966 the complex hosted the launch of a mockup of the planned Manned Orbiting Laboratory, a military space station which would have been manned by US Air Force crews launched in Gemini spacecraft.
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