Spaceflight Insider

Launch of Falcon 9 with AsiaSat 6 slips to Aug. 27

Photo Credit: SpaceX

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX ) has opted to delay the launch of the commercial AsiaSat 6 by 24 hours. Liftoff is now scheduled to take place no-earlier-than Aug. 27 at 12:50 a.m. EDT (0450 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 located in Florida. SpaceX has cited the recent in-flight failure of the Falcon 9 Reusable test article.

“While Friday’s F9R three engine, single stage test article and our launch site in McGregor, Texas are very different from the planned Cape Canaveral, Florida launch of the AsiaSat 6 satellite on the Falcon 9 rocket, we are taking some additional time to review the circumstances that caused the test vehicle to auto terminate to confirm that there is not a risk to orbital flight,” said SpaceX spokesperson John Taylor in a recent email. “SpaceX prizes mission assurance above all. This action is consistent with that philosophy.”

Image Credit: SpaceX

Image Credit: SpaceX

Pending approval by the United States Air Force’s 45th Space Wing, SpaceX has requested the 27th as well as the 28th (for backup). The launch window extends some 3 hours, 15 minutes.

On Friday, Aug. 22, a F9R encountered an anomaly, forcing the rocket’s flight termination hardware to be activated and the rocket to be destroyed. SpaceX CEO and Founder Elon Musk addressed the technical issues encountered by the F9R in a tweet shortly after the incident.

“Three engine F9R Dev1 vehicle auto-terminated during test flight. No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky …”

AsiaSat 6 was built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL), the same contractor who built AsiaSat 8, and is the fourth satellite built by SSL for AsiaSat. SSL currently has another communication satellite, AsiaSat 9, currently being constructed and planned for launch sometime in 2017.

“SSL and AsiaSat designed AsiaSat 6 with the flexibility and capability to provide high quality and reliable satellite services across the Asia Pacific,” said William Wade, President and Chief Executive Officer of AsiaSat in a company statement.

The AsiaSat 6 spacecraft. Image Credit: AsiaSat

The AsiaSat 6 spacecraft. Image Credit: AsiaSat

The design of AsiaSat 6 is based around SSL’s LS-1300 satellite bus, and has a weight of 3,700 kilograms or 8,157 pounds. This satellite will use 28 high-power C-band transponders powered by two deployable solar arrays and on-board batteries. Like other satellites in the companies constellation, AsiaSat 6 is designed to carry out a 15-year mission over the Asia-Pacific region, in a high Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) at 120 degrees East longitude over Thailand.

Thaicom Public Company Limited (Thaicom) partnered with AsiaSat for this mission and has signed a $171 million contract with AsiaSat for shared use of half of AsiaSat 6’s 28 transponders, making this satellite technically classified as AsiaSat 6/Thaicom 7.

AsiaSat currently has five satellites in-service, AsiaSat 3S, AsiaSat 4, AsiaSat 5, AsiaSat 7 and AsiaSat 8, which work together to provide broadcast and telecommunication services to over two-thirds of the world’s population across the Asia-Pacific region. AsiaSat 7, which was launch on Nov. 25, 2011, is scheduled to replace AsiaSat 3S this year according to their website. AsiaSat 6 will also feature a global beam and regional beam, designed to offer enhanced power and look angles with its transmission.

AsiaSat 6 arrived at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at the end of July before the launch of AsiaSat 8, and was encapsulated into its payload in the days prior to its planned launch date. Overall, it’s designed to provide video signal distribution and broadband network coverage over Asia, Australia, Central Asia and the Pacific islands.

If the launch takes place on time, it will mark the fifth launch this year for SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The Hawthorne, California-based firm has accelerated the pace of the launches it carries out on behalf of NASA and commercial customers.

This week's launch - will mark the fifth of the year for Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX. Photo Credit: SpaceX

This week’s launch – will mark the fifth of the year for Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX. Photo Credit: SpaceX

 

Elements of this article were written by SpaceFlight Insider’s James Tutten. Stay tuned to SFI for updates, including live launch-day status coverage from Cape Canaveral!

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Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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