Launch of JCSAT-18 / Kacific-1 furthers SpaceX’s reusability program
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — As SpaceX’s domination of the launch services market increases, the company continues to double down on technologies that were once thought to exist only in the realm of fantasy. There’s always going to be bumps in the road of progress however. Such was the case with the launch of the JCSAT 18 / Kacific 1 communications satellite.
The satellite was sent on its way on Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:10 p.m. EST (00:10 UTC on Tuesday) SpaceX sent the SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. and Kacific Broadband Satellites Group on its way to a geostationary transfer orbit. The Boeing-built satellite had a little extra “junk in its trunk” (weighing in at approximately 15,300 lbs or 6,950 kg ). It’s currently slated to enter service in the first quarter of 2020. Kacific plans to have the satellite provide services until about 2035.
The first stage used on this mission (B1056.3) was test fired on Dec. 13 and has supported two other missions, those of CRS-17 and CRS-18 which were launched in May and July of 2019 respectively. After delivering its payload to orbit, the stage conducted its third landing about eight and a half minutes later, touching down on the “Of Course I Still Love You” autonomous spaceport drone ship.
Meanwhile, two ships were deployed to collect the two halves of the rocket’s payload fairing. Dubbed “Ms. Tree” and “Ms. Chief,” the vessels weren’t successful in their mission. But SpaceX worked to recover the fairing anyway to see if the two parts can be reused.
“Kacific1 is the newest and most powerful commercial satellite operating in the Asia-Pacific region, placing Kacific in an excellent position to grow alongside these markets,” said Christian Patouraux, Kacific founder and CEO said via a company-issued release. “Its range of services, from mobile backhaul to broadband internet via VSAT terminals, will provide a catalyst for positive change in the nations it is about to serve. I’m thrilled to start seeing the social and economic impact of Kacific1.”
The communications satellite entered geostationary transfer orbit just 33 minutes after it was launched. If everything performs as advertised, the spacecraft should provide a load of services across Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It was the first Kacific satellite to be launched, making the flight a major milestone for the Singapore-based company.
“Celebrating this launch with Kacific’s international supporters has been an incredible and affirming experience. I’m very thankful for the wonderful energy they have brought to this unforgettable moment,” said Patouraux.
Video courtesy of SpaceX
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