SpaceX Falcon 9 Puts on Spectacular Show at Sunset to Boost 2 Intelsat Satellites into Orbit


Two days late after SpaceX launched two Intelsat communications satellites from Cape Canaveral on Saturday night in the company’s third Falcon 9 launch in as many days. Two Wednesdays followed, one from each coast, just seven hours apart.

The latest Falcon 9 lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 7:05 p.m. EDT with the first stage making its 14th flight — the most so far for a commercial customer outside of SpaceX — and climbed on an eastward trajectory across the river. Atlantic Ocean.

After dropping off the well-used recovery first stage on the SpaceX lander, the rocket’s upper stage ejected the two satellite payloads from the recognizable atmosphere and released them into elliptical “transfer” orbits as planned about 40 minutes later. commencement.

A remarkable view of the Falcon 9 heading into space as seen by a camera aboard a SpaceX unmanned ship located several hundred miles down in the Atlantic Ocean. All rocket exhaust plumes expand in the low-pressure environment of the extreme upper atmosphere, but the effect is particularly striking at sunrise or sunset. Making its record-breaking 14th flight, the rocket’s first stage landed successfully about nine minutes after launch.


Spectacular video from a SpaceX drone — waiting for the first stage several hundred miles down in the Atlantic Ocean — showed the rocket’s second stage exhaust plume expanding dramatically in the low-pressure upper atmosphere, an eye-catching effect best seen when backlit at dawn or sunset.

Area residents, tourists and photographers, both amateur and professional, tweeted equally spectacular views of the rocket looming in front of the rising full moon as it hurtled toward orbit.

“Captured by Falcon 9 using Intelsat Galaxy 33 and 34 as they fly over the Hunter’s Moon from the waters of Florida’s Indian River tonight,” photographer Trevor Mahlmann tweeted.

In any case, with a successful launch behind them, Intelsat’s Galaxy 33 and 34 satellites will use onboard propulsion to raise the low and high points of their orbits until they both reach a circular “geosynchronous” altitude, 22,300 miles above the equator. visibility to North America.

Satellites are the latest disk mandated by the FCC to free up space in the radio spectrum for 5G mobile networks, which requires new satellites to replace the lost capacity. The Galaxy 33 and 34 will be used by a number of major media outlets, including HBO, Disney Channel, Starz and the Discovery channel.

A view of the launch from nearby Kennedy Space Center as Falcon 9 climbs out of Pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

William Harwood/CBS News

“They are part of a seven-satellite purchase we made in 2020 to replace some of our Galaxy satellites,” Jean-Luc Froeliger, Intelsat’s senior vice president for space systems, told Spaceflight Now.

“Galaxy” is the trademark for Intelsat relay stations serving North America. The new satellites are being launched in pairs, with four more flights planned before the end of the year. This includes two from Cape Canaveral, Florida, using another Falcon 9, and two from French Guiana, using Europe’s Ariane rocket.

The seventh galaxy is heavier than the others and will be launched alone in the first half of 2023.



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