SpaceX launched its 27th Falcon 9 rocket so far this year Wednesday, putting the first of six new SES communications satellites into orbit that will help make room in the C-band spectrum for 5G mobile networks.
Using a recycled first-stage rocket, one which was making its second flight, the Falcon 9 roared to life and climbed away from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:04 p.m. EDT. It marked SpaceX's fifth flight this month.
After boosting the 229-foot-tall rocket out of the thick lower atmosphere, the first stage separated and headed for a successful landing on an off-shore barge, while the second stage continued the climb to space.
Thirty-three minutes after liftoff, after two firings of the second-stage engine, the SES-22 satellite was released into an elliptical "transfer" orbit.
Over the next several weeks, on board thrusters will push the satellite into a circular geosynchronous orbit, 22,300 miles above the equator, where it will rotate in lockstep with Earth, allowing the use of stationary antennas on the ground.
Built by Thales Alenia Space, SES-22 is the first of six satellites ordered by SES as part of a Federal Communications Commission move to free up the lower part of the C-band spectrum, traditionally used by radio and television relay stations, for use by emerging 5G broadband networks.
SES-22 and similar satellites will operate in the upper region of the C-band spectrum to make room for 5G transmissions. SES and other existing C-band satellite operators will be reimbursed for the cost of building and launching new satellites by companies bidding for slices of the 5G spectrum.
"SES 22 is a C-band satellite, so it's part of our program of C-band clearing in the U.S.," Christophe De Hauwer, SES's chief strategy and development officer, told Spaceflight Now.
"It's a C-band only satellite," he went on. "It will be launched to 135 degrees west, which is the location we are replenishing, from where we will provide mostly TV and radio services over the U.S., but also some data services over the country."
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