SpaceX launched the SES O3b mPOWER mission on Sunday (November 12), deploying two communications satellites into medium Earth orbit (MEO).
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites lifted off from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 4:08 pm EST (2108 GMT).
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The Falcon 9’s first stage returned to Earth and made a vertical touchdown on the company’s drone ship 8.5 minutes after liftoff. A ship known as “A Shortfall of Gravitas” was waiting nearby in the Atlantic Ocean; As is standard for Falcon 9 flights, the upper stage of the rocket will not recover.
Two hours after liftoff, the rocket’s upper stage will send the first of two satellites into a medium Earth orbit (MEO) about 5,000 miles (8,000 km) above our planet. Seven minutes later, a second satellite will be launched.
The two Boeing-built spacecraft on board will expand the O3b suite of communications satellites operated by provider SES SA of Luxembourg. Once completed, the six-satellite constellation is expected to provide high-speed connectivity to various customers in the government and private industries starting in late 2023.
The Falcon 9 booster on board had flown on eight previous missions, five of which were dedicated to building Starlink, SpaceX’s megaconstellation of broadband internet satellites. Starlink currently has More than 5,000 operational satellites.
The SES O3b mPOWER mission marked SpaceX’s 84th launch of the year.