SES-22 | Falcon 9 Block 5

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Featured image credit: SpaceX
Lift Off Time
(Subject to change)

June 29, 2022 – 21:04 UTC | 17:04 EDT

Mission Name

SES-22

Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)

SpaceX

Customer
(Who’s paying for this?)

SES S.A.

Rocket

Falcon 9 Block 5, B1073-2; 46.02 day turnaround time

Launch Location

Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40), Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, USA

Payload mass

3,500 kg (7,700 lb)

Where is the satellite going?

Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO)

Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?

Yes

Where will the first stage land?

A Shortfall of Gravitas 666 km downrange

Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?

The fairing halves will be recovered from the water ~782 km downrange by Doug

Are these fairings new?

TBD

How’s the weather looking?

The weather is currently 80% go for launch (as of June 26, 2022)

This will be the:

– 161st Falcon 9 launch
– 99th Falcon 9 flight with a flight proven booster
– 27th launch for SpaceX in 2022
– 103rd re-flight of a booster
– 25th re-flight of a booster in 2022
– 127th booster landing
– 53rd consecutive landing (a record)

– 89th SpaceX launch from SLC-40
– 74th orbital launch attempt of 2022

Where to watch

Once available, an official livestream will be listed here

What Does All This Mean?

SpaceX will launch the SES-22, a C-band satellite, to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) on their Falcon 9 Block 5. The rocket will lift off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, marking the 89th launch of the company from this site.

A logo of the SES satellites. (Credit: SES)

SES-22 Mission

The SES-22 is a C-band communication satellite owned by SES S.A., a Luxembourgian telecommunication company. This satellite was designed and produced by Thales Alenia Space, a joint-venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%). In addition, the company will be responsible for support of the payload in-orbit acceptance tests. Apart from the SES-22, Thales Alenia Space will build the SES-23 satellite.

The SES-22 and SES-23 satellites. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

The SES-22 is the 11th satellite based on the proven Spacebus 4000 B2 platform. It has a mass of 3,500 kg, two solar arrays, and a lifespan of 15 years. Its main aim is to provide North America with digital broadcasting services. The satellite will contribute to the effort of clearing lower 300 MHz of C-band spectrum necessary to deploy 5G services in the United States.

The SES-22 satellite during vibration test. (Credit: Thales Alenia Space)

The SES-22 likely makes use of a software system called Adaptive Resource Control (ARC). This software already supports the SES-17 satellite launched in October 2021. ARC provides dynamic management of service requests and available resources in orbit and on the ground. SES has been working on ARC with Kythera Space Solutions since September 2019 when they jointly announced the development.

What Is Falcon 9 Block 5?

The Falcon 9 Block 5 is SpaceX’s partially reusable two-stage medium-lift launch vehicle. The vehicle consists of a reusable first stage, an expendable second stage, and, when in payload configuration, a pair of reusable fairing halves.

First Stage

The Falcon 9 first stage contains 9 Merlin 1D+ sea level engines. Each engine uses an open gas generator cycle and runs on RP-1 and liquid oxygen (LOx). Each engine produces 845 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 285 seconds, and 934 kN in a vacuum with an ISP of 313 seconds. Due to the powerful nature of the engine, and the large amount of them, the Falcon 9 first stage is able to lose an engine right off the pad, or up to two later in flight, and be able to successfully place the payload into orbit.

The Merlin engines are ignited by triethylaluminum and triethylborane (TEA-TEB), which instantaneously burst into flames when mixed in the presence of oxygen. During static fire and launch the TEA-TEB is provided by the ground service equipment. However, as the Falcon 9 first stage is able to propulsively land, three of the Merlin engines (E1, E5, and E9) contain TEA-TEB canisters to relight for the boost back, reentry, and landing burns.

Second Stage

The Falcon 9 second stage is the only expendable part of the Falcon 9. It contains a singular MVacD engine that produces 992 kN of thrust and an ISP of 348 seconds. The second stage is capable of doing several burns, allowing the Falcon 9 to put payloads in several different orbits.

For missions with many burns and/or long coasts between burns, the second stage is able to be equipped with a mission extension package. When the second stage has this package it has a grey strip, which helps keep the RP-1 warm, an increased number of composite-overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) for pressurization control, and additional TEA-TEB.

Falcon 9 Block 5 launching on the Starlink V1.0 L27 mission (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Booster

The booster supporting the SES-22 mission is B1071. This booster has supported one of the previous Starlink missions, making its designation for the this mission B1071-2; this will change to B1071-3 upon successful landing on SpaceX’s autonomous spaceport drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas.

Falcon 9 landing on Of Course I Still Love You after launching Bob and Doug (Credit: SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Fairings

The Falcon 9’s fairing consists of two dissimilar reusable halves. The first half (the half that faces away from the transport erector) is called the active half, and houses the pneumatics for the separation system. The other fairing half is called the passive half. As the name implies, this half plays a purely passive role in the fairing separation process, as it relies on the pneumatics from the active half.

Both fairing halves are equipped with cold gas thrusters and a parafoil which are used to softly touch down the fairing half in the ocean. SpaceX used to attempt to catch the fairing halves, however, at the end of 2020 this program was canceled due to safety risks and a low success rate. On the SES-22 mission, the fairing halves will be recovered from the water ~782 km downrange by Doug.

In 2021, SpaceX started flying a new version of the Falcon 9 fairing. The new “upgraded” version has vents only at the top of each fairing half, by the gap between the halves, whereas the old version had vents placed spread equidistantly around the base of the fairing. Moving the vents decreases the chance of water getting into the fairing, making the chance of a successful scoop significantly higher.

An active Falcon 9 fairing half (Credit: Greg Scott)

Falcon 9 passive fairing half (Credit: Greg Scott)

Half of the fairing being taken off Go. Navigator. (Credit: Lupi)

A passive fairing half being unloaded from Shelia Bordelon after the Starlink V1.0 L22 mission (Credit: Kyle M)

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