SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket has secured another two launch contracts, this time from longtime client and prolific satellite communications supplier SES.
In 2016, SES obtained satellite operator and communications provider O3B Networks, inheriting a community of 12 O3B satellites that it would later shepherd into a full 20-satellite constellation. Constructed by contractor Thales Alenia Area, the O3B spacecraft design was ironically fairly comparable to the Starlink satellites SpaceX would commence to area many several years later, weighing all-around 700 kg (1540 lb) and just about every offering bandwidth of ~16 gigabits per second (Gbps).
The unique O3B constellation was in the end introduced on 5 separate Russian Soyuz rockets arranged by Arianespace. Now, some 16 months right after the remaining O3B launch, SES’ most up-to-date announcement confirms that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets will launch the entirety of an upgraded constellation identified as O3B mPower – incorporating two a lot more launches to the company’s busy manifest.
As opposed to O3B, O3B mPower will be a key upgrade, beating the unique medium Earth orbit (MEO ~8000 km/5000 mi) constellation’s in general bandwidth by at minimum a factor of 3. SES has but to reveal substantially technological element about each spacecraft but the implication is that the in general constellation – now predicted to be 11 satellites – will insert many terabits for each next (Tbps) of world-wide communications ability.
SES (and O3B prior to acquisition) experienced previously requested seven ~17O3B mPower satellites from Boeing and selected SpaceX for launch expert services. Now, the company has purchased 4 much more Boeing-developed satellites, launch providers from SpaceX, and insurance policies for an eye-watering ~$570 million – more than $140 million apiece. For reference, based on statements created by CEO Elon Musk in the very last ~18 months, SpaceX may perhaps have created and released nearly 600 operational Starlink satellites – each supplying ~20 Gbps of bandwidth and far decreased latency – for about the similar sum, assuming ~$20 million for each Falcon 9 launch, $300,000 per satellite, and at the very least $150 million for first progress.
Of program, for the income, SES will be getting a system that can do matters SpaceX’s current generation of Starlink satellites can’t seriously contend with and will focus principally on in-flight and maritime connectivity markets. Particular person O3B mPower antenna beams will reportedly be able of transmitting “multiple gigabits for each second.”
Regardless, the sturdy, continued marriage among SES and SpaceX is not a substantial surprise. SES has flown 6 occasions on Falcon 9 rockets and was each SpaceX’s initially geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) start client in 2013 and the initial organization in heritage to launch on a flight-confirmed rocket booster in 2017. SES’ most current launch contracts ensure that that marriage is assured to go on until eventually 2024.
SpaceX is now scheduled to launch 4 independent O3B mPower missions, starting with a few a few-satellite Falcon 9 launches in Q3 2021, Q1 2022, and H2 2022 and culminating (for now) with a two-satellite start no earlier than (Web) H2 2024.
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