Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral was the scene of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launch. Today’s success marked the delivery of Koreasat-5A to its designated orbit. It also marked the SpaceX’s 16th successful mission of 2017 — twice the number of successful missions in 2016.
Not long after liftoff, the first stage of the flaming rocket returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean on one of the SpaceX autonomous barges.
It was the 13th successful landing of a Falcon 9 rocket this year, the 15th in a row, and the 19th overall, according to the company.
The rocket’s mission is to send a satellite known as Koreasat-5A into space, where it will hover above Earth for about 15 years while providing communications bandwidth for Korea and Southern Asia.
According to NASASPACEFLIGHT.COM, the three-and-a-half-ton (7,700 lb) KoreaSat-5A satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space and is based on the SpaceBus-4000B2 platform. Equipped with thirty-six Ku-band transponders, the satellite will support broadcasting and internet services in Korea, Southeast Asia and the Middle East from geostationary orbit at a longitude of 113 degrees East. Koreasat-5A is expected to operate for at least fifteen years.
Koreasat-5A is one of two which KT SAT ordered from Thales in May 2014. The second satellite, Koreasat-7, was successfully deployed by an Ariane 5 rocket earlier this year. Koreasat-5A will replace the Koreasat-5 spacecraft, which was deployed in 2006, flying aboard a Zenit-3SL rocket from Sea Launch’s Odyssey launch platform in the Pacific.
Koreasat-5, another Thales-built satellite, was designed for a fifteen-year lifespan but is being replaced ahead of schedule because of a problem with its solar arrays. In 2013 the drive mechanism, which rotates the solar arrays to face the sun – maximising their exposure to sunlight – stopped operating correctly, reducing the satellite’s available power.
Koreasat-5A will join the Koreasat-7 and Olleh 1 (or Koreasat-6) satellites in KT SAT’s fleet. Formerly known as Korea Telecom, KT SAT’s first satellite was Koreasat-1, deployed in August 1995 by a Delta II rocket. During its ascent to orbit, one of the Delta’s nine solid rocket boosters failed to separate – one of only two blemishes on the Delta II’s otherwise exemplary record – with the satellite attaining a lower orbit than had been planned.
Koreasat-1, along with its sister craft Koreasat-2 and the later Koreasat-3, have since been sold to other operators and the original two satellites have been decommissioned. In addition to its own satellites, KT SAT has leased capacity on other spacecraft, including Asia Broadcast Satellite’s ABS-2 satellite which it markets as Koreasat-8