Telstar-19 Vantage SpaceX
Telesat's Telstar-19 Vantage separated from Falcon 9's upper stage about 33 minutes after liftoff July 22. Credit: SpaceX webcast

WASHINGTON — SpaceX launched the first of two missions planned for this week on Sunday, July 22, lofting the Telstar 19 Vantage telecom satellite for Telesat using a Falcon 9 rocket.

The Block 5 Falcon 9 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida at 1:50 a.m. Eastern, and deployed Telstar 19 Vantage into a geostationary transfer orbit almost 33 minutes later.

The rocket’s first stage landed on the sea-faring droneship  “Of Course I Still Love You” approximately eight and a half minutes later.

Telstar-19 Vantage is the first of two SSL-built satellites SpaceX is launching for Canadian fleet operator Telesat this year. The satellite has a mix of traditional Ku-band wide beams and Ku- and Ka-band spot beams for connectivity services including internet for consumers, stores, offices and mobile platforms like boats and airplanes.

Telesat is positioning Telesat-19 Vantage at 63 degrees West, the same orbital slot as its seven-year-old Ku-band Telstar-14R satellite.

Two anchor customers, Hughes Network Systems of Germantown, Maryland, and Bell Canada of Québec, Canada signed 15-year capacity leases prior to launch, affirming Telesat’s business plan for Telstar-19 Vantage, which is a growth satellite, not a replacement. Hughes secured all of the satellite’s Ka-band capacity over Latin America, rebranding it as “Hughes 63 West,” and customers including Bell Canada are leasing the entire Canadian Ka-band payload.

Along with operating geostationary satellites, Telesat is preparing a constellation of 117 low-Earth-orbit spacecraft for high-speed broadband in 2022. The company has one prototype satellite in orbit from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. Partners OmniAccess, a maritime connectivity company, Australian fleet operator Optus Satellite and Global Eagle Entertainment, an aeronautical, maritime and remote connectivity provider, are all testing the service.

SpaceX’s next mission is a Falcon 9 with 10 Iridium Next satellites scheduled for launch July 25 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Telesat’s next satellite, the Telstar-18/Apstar-5C satellite shared with APT Satellite of Hong Kong, is scheduled for a Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral no earlier than August.

Caleb Henry is a former SpaceNews staff writer covering satellites, telecom and launch. He previously worked for Via Satellite and NewSpace Global.He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science along with a minor in astronomy from...