Updated at 9:45 a.m. EDT
PARIS — A Space Exploration Technologies Corp. () Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 6 successfully placed the Thaicom 6 commercial telecommunications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit in the vehicle’s second fully commercial mission in a month, SpaceX said.
SpaceX waited many minutes after the scheduled separation into orbit of Thaicom 6 before announcing, on its Twitter feed, that Thaicom had been released into the target orbit.
Thailand’s satellite fleet operator, Thaicom, will operate Thaicom 6 at the company’s 78.5 degrees east orbital slot, where it will be stationed alongside the Thaicom 5 satellite that is already there. Thaicom has said its Thaicom 6 investment totaled some $160 million, including the satellite’s construction by Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp., its launch by the SpaceX Falcon 9 and the first year’s insurance coverage.
Orbital confirmed that Thaicom 6 is safely in orbit and sending signals.
Thaicom 6 carries eight Ku-band transponders and 18 C-band transponders. The C-band payload is split into two beams, with two-thirds of the capacity devoted to the Southeast Asia beam and the remaining six transponders feeding a beam over Africa. Thaicom officials have said the Southeast Asia beam, which carries most of the satellite’s total capacity, has been fully booked for months.
For Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX, the Thaicom 6 launch demonstrated the company’s ability to return to flight in short order following the successful Dec. 3 launch of Luxembourg-based’s SES-8 telecommunications satellite. For Thaicom 6, SpaceX placed the satellite into a higher apogee — 90,000 kilometers — than was used for SES-8. Higher apogees of supersynchronous orbits are used to remove the inclination relative to the equator as the orbit is lowered toward final geostationary orbit circularized at about 36,000 kilometers over the equator.
Exact orbital injection parameters were not immediately available, but SpaceX said its target was an apogee of 90,000 kilometers, a perigee of 295 kilometers and an inclination of 22.5 degrees relative to the equator.