Falcon 9 Rocket Launches From Cape Canaveral Carrying the SES 9 Satellite.
On March 4, 2016, SpaceX launched its second mission for SES carrying the SES 9 satellite aboard the 229 foot tall Falcon 9 rocket. This was the fourth attempt to launch with the previous attempts being scrubbed due to weather or other technical issues.
Below is a 360-degree panoramic image of media crews setting up for the first launch attempt on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, along the ITL, the closest non-essential personnel can get during a launch. The ITL is about 2.6 miles away from the launch pad.
After the launch, SpaceX plans to attempt to land the first stage aboard the football field-sized ocean-going barge in the Atlantic. SpaceX has attempted to land on the barge three times in the past, all with failure. This time was no different as the Falcon 9 first stage missed the drone ship and was not able to make a successful landing. However, the last Falcon 9 launch in December 2015, SpaceX was able to land successfully back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Manufactured by Boeing Satellite Systems, the spacecraft is designed for a 15-year lifespan and will be positioned in the orbital slot of 108.2° E, providing direct-to-home and other communications services over Northeast Asia, South Asia, and Indonesia, as well as maritime communications for vessels in the Indian Ocean.
Broadcasting satellites such as the SES 9 are usually deployed into an egg-shaped orbit, with a high point near geostationary altitude and a lower point that is much closer to Earth. In these cases, the satellite’s onboard propulsion system is responsible for adjusting the position of the craft into its operational post. SES 9 will carry a conventional liquid-fueled engine to complete the major post-launch maneuvers and an electric propulsion system to fine-tune its orbit and to slip into its 108.2 degrees east longitude position.
While the use of the electric propulsion system will save fuel, in the long run, its ion thrusters take longer to adjust the trajectory of the spacecraft. This means the SES 9 satellite will take a few months to reach its geostationary orbit, instead of the usual couple of weeks.
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