Saturday, 15 December, 2018

SpaceX launches Qatari communications satellite

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Sandy Nunez | 17 November, 2018, 22:24

This is the first launch during daylight hours since this past spring.

Knifing through an overcast sky, the rocket quickly disappeared from view, leaving a slowly fading rumble in its wake.

The first stage of the rocket successfully sat on a floating platform off the coast of Florida. The satellite separated from the rocket 32 minutes later.

The launch was witnessed by HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah and Qatar's ambassador to the US Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad al-Thani with other dignitaries and officials.

SpaceX successfully launched the Es'hail-2 satellite for its Qatar customers on November 15th. Es'hail 2 features high-speed Ku- and Ka-band communications services.

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In 2017, the space company launched 18 times - including missions for NASA and private satellites.

To get there, the satellite's on-board propulsion system will be used to raise the low-point of the orbit and maneuver the spacecraft into the proper position to serve the Middle East. Both Es'hail-1 and Es'hail-2 will be co-located at the 25.5°/26° E TV broadcasting hotspot.

Es'hail-2 also carries two amateur-radio transponders that will facilitate conventional analog ham radio as well as experimental digital communications, including amateur television.

As the satellite was still climbing, the first stage of the rocket descended back to Earth and was captured in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean by SpaceX's drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, marking yet another successful return of a rocket to the landing pad. The satellite will use its own power to achieve a geostationary orbit. The agency's latest schedule has SpaceX's first demonstration flight slated for January, and the first flight with astronauts on board planned for June.