Spaceflight Insider

SpaceX Falcon 9 to send Koreasat 5A to space Monday

An artist's rendering of Koreasat 5A in orbit. Image Credit: Thales Alenia Space

An artist’s rendering of Koreasat 5A in orbit. Image Credit: Thales Alenia Space

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — SpaceX is getting ready to launch a South Korean communications satellite, Koreasat 5A, into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The flight will be the 16th that the Hawthorne, California-based company has performed in 2017.

Liftoff from seaside Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) is slated for 3:34 p.m. EDT (19:34 GMT) Oct. 30, 2017 – the opening of a 2-hour, 24-minute launch window. Weather conditions for this attempt are expected to have less than a 10 percent chance of violating mission rules, according to the 45th Weather Squadron, which is based at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The primary concern will be strong winds at liftoff.

A file photo of SpaceX performing a static fire test on the rocket used for the SES-11 mission earlier in October. Photo Credit: SpaceX

A file photo of SpaceX performing a static fire test on the rocket used for the SES-11 mission earlier in October. Photo Credit: SpaceX

The launch will come some four days after the company’s customary pre-launch static fire test, which occurred at about noon EDT (16:00 GMT) Oct. 26, 2017. This involved rolling the Falcon 9, sans the payload and fairing, up the ramp at LC-39A and raising it to a horizontal position.

After a simulated countdown, which involved fueling the rocket with liquid oxygen and rocket grade kerosene (also known as RP-1), the nine first stage Merlin 1D engines ignited. After some three seconds, the onboard computer called an abort and the engines were cut off as planned. Engineers will look at the data from this test to determine whether all is well with the vehicle before committing to the launch.

In the meantime, the rocket was lowered and rolled back into the nearby horizontal integration facility just outside the perimeter fence at LC-39A. There, the encapsulated Koreasat 5A will be attached to the top of the rocket. Once launch day arrives, the full 230-foot (70-meter) tall stack will be rolled back up the ramp and prepped for the actual flight.

Operated by South Korea-based KT Corporation, Koreasat 5A will provide direct-to-home broadcasting, as well as other communications services, to Korea, Japan, Philippines, Guam, Indochina, and South Asia. It will replace Koreasat 5, which was launched in 2006.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will launch Koreasat 5A into a geostationary transfer orbit. Once deployed from the vehicle’s second stage, the satellite will use its onboard propellant to circularize its orbit to some 22,300 miles (35,900 kilometers) – geostationary orbit. In particular, it will be parked at the 113 degrees East orbital slot.

Built by Thales Alenia Space, the satellite was constructed around the Spacebus-4000B2 platform. The 7,700-pound (3,500-kilogram) spacecraft has 36 Ku-band transponders at various frequencies and will be powered by two deployable solar arrays producing seven kilowatts of power. It has a projected lifespan of 15 years.

The Falcon 9 first stage used for this mission will be brand new. It will attempt a landing downrange in the Atlantic Ocean on SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship named Of Course I Still Love You. This will be the 44th Falcon 9 rocket to be launched since 2010 and the 12th to launch from Florida in 2017. It will also be the third flight in October alone.

Should all go according to the current schedule, the company will attempt up to four more Falcon 9 rocket launches before year’s end to bring SpaceX’s 2017 total to 20, potentially outpacing even Russia’s orbital launch count.




Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.

Reader Comments

One day before planned launch, the track of Hurricane Phillipe shows eye of the storm well out to sea from Florida. However, there could be a lot of peripheral rain , wind , and rough seas from Phillppe in or near the drop zone of the drone landing ship OCISLY. I’m not at all certain where that landing ship is stationed for Falcon launches , neither am I a weatherman nor mariner. It just looks like Falcon might be flying straight down into a tropical storm zone.

This landing attempt on the barge could be ” sporting ” .

The storm has dissipated to a negligible level, not even tracked as “remnants” by the NHC any more. It is also much too far out to sea to be a factor, about twice as far as the landing target. The drone ship will be no more the 300miles down range (closer to 250), and the rocket will launch due east for a GEO launch. This will place the drone North of the Bahamas (due north of Nassau most likely). Looking at GOES weather imagery, there is no storm in the region that would have a major effect on the ship.

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