News Brief: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sent the SES-12 telecommunications satellite into orbit tonight in a no-drama night launch. The delay is to make way for further tests of the upper stage of the booster. The weather appears favorable, with a 70 percent chance of "go" conditions.
At the time, Musk said on Twitter the moon tourist mission was slated to happen "late next year", referring to 2018. The first stage is back on the launch pad Sunday for its second flight. Instead, the satellite will have an electric drive that uses xenon gas pulses to slowly circulate its orbit around the equator for a period of months. At that altitude and equatorial orientation, satellites take 24 hours to complete one orbit and thus appear stationary in the sky as the Earth rotates.
"Airbus salutes SES's ambitions regarding innovation and responsiveness in a rapidly changing market and we acknowledge their strong support for all-electric satellite technology", said Nicolas Chamussy, Head of Space Systems.
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Space X will not be trying to land the Falcon 9 booster for the second time. "We're actually going to an apogee around about 58,000 kilometers".
SES-12 is created to replace NSS-6 and will be co-located at 95 degrees East and expanding DTH and other connectivity over India, as well as Eastern Europe and the Middle East, while offering coverage as far as Australia, Japan, and South East Asia. SES-12 is designed for an operational life of some 15 years.
SpaceX reportedly launched its next Falcon 9 carrying a communications satellite on Monday.
"This is an incredibly flexible satellite that we're putting into our fleet", said John-Paul Hemingway, CEO of SES Networks.