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Watch: SpaceX Launch of GovSat-1/SES-16 on 1-31-18

SpaceX is targeting Wednesday afternoon for a Falcon 9 launch of the GovSat-1 satellite to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Elon Musk’s successful private space launch company expects to launch during a 2-hour and 31-minute window beginning at 4:25 p.m. EST. The payload will be delivered to a transfer orbit with an apogee of 36,000 kilometers above the Earth where the satellite’s own thrusters will convert it to a geosynchronous orbit at 21.5 degrees East.

The reused first stage, last flown on the NROL-76 mission, of the rocket will not be recovered as the block 3 booster was not intended for more than 2 flights before end-of-life.


Designed exclusively to address governmental and institutional security user needs, GovSat-1 is the first satellite of GovSat, a public-private partnership between the Government of Luxembourg and the world-leading satellite operator SES.

The satellite enables secure communication links between theaters of tactical operations, for maritime missions or over areas affected by humanitarian crises. It is ideal to enable mobility and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) applications.

The multi-mission satellite offers X-band and Military Ka-band capacity, up to six high-powered fully steerable spot beams and an advanced Global X-band beam.

Equipped with anti-jamming features, encrypted telemetry and control, GovSat-1 will provide enhanced resilience capabilities operated out of secured ground control facilities.

GovSat-1 will be positioned at 21.5 degrees East in the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) 36,000 kilometers above the equator. It will support communications within Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and enable operations over the Atlantic and Indian oceans, as well as over the Mediterranean and Baltic seas.

GovSat-1 was built by Orbital ATK and is offering 68 transponder-equivalent units of 36 MHz. It is designed to operate for 15 years and has a launch mass of over four metric tons.

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)

Hour/Min/Sec Events
– 01:13:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
– 01:10:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
– 00:35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
– 00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
– 00:01:00 Flight computer commanded to begin final pre-launch checks
– 00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
– 00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff

Hour/Min/Sec Events
00:01:18 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:38 1st stage engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:40 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:41 2nd stage engine starts
00:03:44 Fairing deployment
00:08:35 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:26:40 2nd stage engine restarts
00:27:48 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
00:32:19 GovSat-1 satellite deployment

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Duncan Idaho

Duncan is a science and technology reporter for CDN and serves as the lead geek correspondent. Follow him if you like rockets, mobile tech, video games or ... just about anything nerdy.

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