Spaceflight Insider

Flight proven Falcon 9 booster may launch the SES-11 satellite into orbit

Falcon 9 takes flight with SES-10; it may also launch the SES-11 satellite

Falcon 9 takes flight with SES-10; it may also launch the SES-11 satellite. Photo Credit: Michael Deep / SpaceFlight Insider

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — If rumors that have been circulating prove to be true, the SES-11 satellite launch, currently scheduled for no earlier than September 27, 2017, may fly on a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.

The SES-11 satellite (sometimes referred to as EchoStar 105) will provide satellite based television to customers across North America. It is designed to replace functions currently being provided by two different satellites currently in orbit.

According to a statement on the SES website: “The spacecraft’s Ku-band capacity will replace AMC-15 at 105° W, an orbital position where EchoStar has been our anchor customer since 2006. The spacecraft’s C-band capacity will provide replacement capacity for AMC-18 at the same position.”

Falcon 9 core 21 second landing

After sending SES-10 toward space, the pre-flown first stage of the Falcon 9 made its second landing on a SpaceX drone ship. Photo Credit: SpaceX webcast

SES has already launched one satellite using a previously flown Falcon 9 booster. On March 30, 2017, the SES-10 satellite became the first geostationary satellite to be placed into orbit using a flight-proven first-stage booster.

Following the successful launch, SpaceX recovered the booster for the second time; additionally, they also were able to recover one-half of the payload fairing, a first for any launch provider.

At a news conference following the successful SES-10 launch, Martin Halliwell, Chief Technology Officer from SES, stated: “We have 3 more flights this year with SpaceX, on two of those flights we are considering now moving them to pre-flown.”

So SES-11 could be one of those two flights that Halliwell was referring to.

SpaceFlight Insider reached out to SpaceX to try and get confirmation, either way, on whether a flight-proven Falcon 9 booster would be used for SES-11, but we have not received an answer from them as of this writing.

Using a flight proven booster offers substantial launch cost savings over a brand new booster. While SpaceX hasn’t quoted specific pricing, it saves the customer millions of dollars for a launch.

SpaceX continues to improve the Falcon 9 booster in efforts to hopefully turn it around to fly again in a short period of time. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has a goal of a 24-hour turnaround time to fly again.

SES-11 is now third in line on the SpaceX launch manifest. Following the successful CRS-12 launch yesterday, August 14, a resupply mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX will first focus on the Formosat 5 Earth-observation satellite launch on August 24, 2017, from SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Then they will tackle a very high profile launch from LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The OTV-5 launch will mark the first time SpaceX has lofted the U.S. Air Force’s experimental X-37B unmanned spacecraft into orbit. That launch is currently slated for September 7, 2017.



Lloyd Campbell’s first interest in space began when he was a very young boy in the 1960s with NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programs. That passion continued in the early 1970s with our continued exploration of our Moon, and was renewed by the Shuttle Program. Having attended the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on its final two missions, STS-131, and STS-133, he began to do more social networking on space and that developed into writing more in-depth articles. Since then he’s attended the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, the agency’s new crew-rated Orion spacecraft on Exploration Flight Test 1, and multiple other uncrewed launches. In addition to writing, Lloyd has also been doing more photography of launches and aviation. He enjoys all aspects of space exploration, both human, and robotic, but his primary passions lie with human exploration and the vehicles, rockets, and other technologies that allow humanity to explore space.

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