SpaceX launches another O3b mPOWER satellite
April 28 at 6:12 pm E.T. from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
On the third attempt of the latest Falcon Heavy launch SpaceX was forced to stand down, the reason still unknown. They were however able to launch a Falcon 9 with the 03b mPOWER payload just two hours and fifteen minutes before the start of the window for Falcon Heavy. Originally set for 5:12 pm E.T. weather conditions were becoming more favorable later in the eighty-eight-minute window, so the team decided to push the launch about an hour in hopes of gaining a launch. That they did, as T-zero hit the clock the nine Merlin 1D engines ignited and Falcon 9 B1078 lifted off the pad as it headed to deliver its payload to orbit.
That payload, part of a medium Earth Orbit constellation owned and operated by SES, the Luxembourg based satellite communications provider is a constellation which provides high-throughput low-latency data and internet services to a variety of commercial and government customers. the mPOWER satellites are forming a second-generation constellation of O3b satellites, with this launch of the mPOWER 3 and 4 pair being the second pair to join the constellation. You may remember the first pair launching back in December of 2022, also on a SpaceX Falcon 9.
The company’s original constellation consists of twenty satellites located in MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and were launched aboard five Soyuz-ST/Fregat-MT missions between June of 2013 and April of 2019. The newer O3b satellites, built by Boeing were announced in 2019 and is known as a software defined satellite, which gives it greater flexibility and capabilities for the operators.
Now having been launched this pair will spend the next six months slowly raising their orbits using their onboard electric propulsion system until the reach the planned operational equatorial orbit at an altitude of 8,000 kilometers. Also, during this time various checks will be performed to ensure all systems onboard are working as intended.
Falcon 9 B1078 which flew today’s mission has only flown once previously, the Crew-6 mission just fifty-seven days ago, carrying four astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) and now will likely be seen regularly flying customer missions with Starlink launches mixed in.
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