SpaceX to launch shared EchoStar, SES satellite in October

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WASHINGTON — SpaceX intends to launch EchoStar-105/SES-11 on a partially reused Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than October, the company said Aug. 31.

The mission will be SpaceX’s third launch to use a previously flown Falcon 9 booster. The first was the March launch of SES-10 followed by the June launch of BulgariaSat-1.

Luxembourg-based SES and EchoStar of Englewood, Colorado, ordered the satellite from Airbus Defence and Space in August 2014 as a replacement for AMC-15, which is now 13 years old. EchoStar will lease the Ku-band payload on SES-11, rebranding it as EchoStar-105.

Both satellite operators originally anticipated the spacecraft launching in late 2016, but SpaceX’s September 2016 Falcon 9 explosion set the mission back about a year.

EchoStar-105/SES-11 will cover the Americas, including Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and the Caribbean, from the 105 degrees west orbital location. Once in orbit, EchoStar will lease the full Ku-band payload for a minimum of 10 years, with the option afterwards to renew on an annual basis. SES will operate the C- and Ka-band payloads, with the C-band payload replacing capacity from AMC-18.

SpaceX is conducting the mission from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on the Florida coast.

In March, SES’s Chief Technology Officer Martin Halliwell said the operator might use up to three pre-flown Falcon 9 boosters this year in an effort to normalize reusable rockets. Meeting that number would require a pre-flown booster for GovSat-1, a joint venture satellite with the government of Luxembourg, which is SES’s last satellite scheduled to launch this year.