PARIS — Satellite fleet operator SES on Oct. 8 said its SES-8 telecommunications satellite had arrived in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to prepare for a November launch aboard the new SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket.

Luxembourg-based SES had ordered SES-8 shipped by road transport on Oct. 2 from manufacturer Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Dulles, Va., plant, following Falcon 9 v1.1’s inaugural flight Sept. 29 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. 

The launch placed a Canadian scientific satellite into low Earth orbit and demonstrated most — but not all — of the functionalities the rocket will need to carry heavier satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

SpaceX said the rocket’s failure to complete a reignition of its upper stage, a feature that will be needed for geostationary missions, was likely due to an easily correctible error given the stage’s multiple reignitions during ground tests.

SES said it is proceeding on the assumption that a November launch is feasible pending a SpaceX accounting of the upper-stage anomaly and the proposed corrective actions. Insurance underwriters backing the $200 million SES-8 launch policy are also waiting for questions to be answered.“SES looks forward to the maiden launch of an SES satellite on board the Falcon 9 rocket,” SES Chief Technology Officer Martin Halliwell said in an Oct. 8 statement.


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Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.