Another pawn on Direct-to-Home chessboard – SES-9 satellite launch scheduled on 20th November 2015

SpaceX after loss of Falcon 9 with CRS-7 DRAGON spacecraft is going to launch upgraded Falcon 9 1.2V with SES-9 satellite under contract with SES.

With constellation of 53 satellites SES Company is not going to rest on laurels. On 20th November 2015 from launch site SLC-41 in Cape Canaveral ASF is planned launch of next Direct-to-Home satellite made by Boeing. Operating on orbit 108.2° longitude east has potential to confirm SES position in DTH market in Northeast Asia, South Asia and Indonesia. Satellite is equipped with KU band transponders powered by two wings with six panels each constructed with ultra-triple-junction gallium arsenide solar cells. Satellite's propulsion is XIPS - Xenon Ion Propulsion System - electric powered engine which should be ten times more efficient than liquid fueled engines.

For SpaceX this mission is significant. After loss of Falcon-9 rocket with CRS-7 Dragon Company will utilize upgraded Falcon-9 1.2V rocket. Compared to last generation main difference is using fully optimized Merlin-1D engines. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell claims:

"In order to launch and get operational with the current Falcon 9 that we're flying, the v1.1, we needed to draw a line on engine development. But what we did see during the development of our Merlin engines ... So what we've done is we've gone back, got that extra performance from those engines, and we're going to place them on the new vehicle, the new spin. I don't know what we're going to call it. Enhanced Falcon 9, Falcon 9 v1.2, Full-Performance Falcon 9."

At last name is now well known; hopefully results of engineering improvements will be more crucial than name change. It would be sign of development progress in Falcon-9 family before adopting reusable technology, which was announced by SpaceX on 29 September 2011.


The first satellite powered entirely by ion engines is online