Atlas V launches two SES communications satellites
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket soared skyward to send two communications satellites into space for Luxembourg-based SES.
The two spacecraft, SES-20 and SES-21, were launched by ULA’s Atlas V rocket in the 531 configuration, meaning it had a five-meter payload fairing, three solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.
Liftoff took place at 5:36 p.m. EDT (21:36 UTC) Oct. 4, 2022, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Centaur upper stage with the two satellites reached a parking orbit roughly 12 minutes later.
About 28 minutes after leaving Florida, the upper stage placed itself and its dual payload into a geostationary transfer orbit. Ultimately, the two satellites are slated to be released into a near-circular, near-geosynchronous orbit with an inclination of about 1.9 degrees relative to the equator, according to ULA, roughly 5 hours, 35 minutes into the mission.
SES-20 is expected to then separate first at about 5 hours, 38 minutes. SES-21 is expected to be deployed at about 6 hours, 18 minutes. Both spacecraft are expected to use their own propulsion systems to reach their final orbital placements in geostationary orbit roughly 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) in altitude.
Both Boeing-built all-electric spacecraft are identical with C-band payloads. ULA says the satellites are also designed to assist with the Federal Communication Commission’s 5G Fast initiative to clear the lower 300 megahertz and upper 200 megahertz of C-band spectrum to make way for 5G mobile devices on the ground. They each have an expected lifespan of 15 years while servicing customers in the United States.
This was ULA’s seventh mission of 2022 — the sixth for the company’s Atlas V. Overall, it was the 96th Atlas V to launch since its debut in 2002.
About 20 more Atlas Vs remain before the vehicle’s expected retirement. ULA is phasing it out in favor of the Vulcan rocket, which is expected to make its debut as early as December.
Video courtesy of United Launch Alliance
Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.